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How drug shortages happen

February 17, 2012
  • By Nancy Ferrari, Managing Director and Executive Editor, Harvard Health Publishing


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March 29, 2012

Drug shortage is absolutely a severe problem to worry about. It may be fatal sometimes. Some serious steps must be taken in this cause by which patients can avail drugs easily. Also, the wastage of drugs in homes is another reason of this problem. If the medicines not consumed by us then it must be returned to nearby medical shop. So, a deep thinking should be done on this issue of saving drugs. Not only drugs, but our emphasize should also be on saving water, as water is also wasted in huge amount in the homes.

Jessica Addison
March 22, 2012

Reasons for shortages can be: drugs are available but in less stock to supply, increase in demand of that medicines or stop manufacturing that drugs for certain period of time because of quality control issues.

March 26, 2012

Yes, I do agree on these all reasons mention by Jessica.But also last week, As recent cancer medicine shortages news announced they have come up with the solution on such shortages problem specially for needy patients, who require medicines on urgent basis. I think this steps of other health care organizations are really helpful for cancer patients.

March 11, 2012

A major reason for these shortages has been quality/manufacturing issues. However there have been other reasons such as production delays at the manufacturer and delays companies have experienced receiving raw materials and components from suppliers.

February 21, 2012

Hello nancy

In my opinion having years of experience in marketing, I can see a common marketing tactic which i know for a fact is used in he medical industry. I call it the Farmer tactic but many have other names for it. It is where you say there is little or no stock of a product and use reverse pshycology to trick the customer into buying a product. You don’t market the product itself but market the lack of the product. I call it the farmer tactic as it is best seen in the milk marketing “Got Milk”. It is marketing the lack of the customer having the product.

Thank you

February 20, 2012

So glad you find the blog helpful. You can also follow Harvard Health Publishing on Facebook and Twitter.


February 20, 2012

When a drug is in short supply but the manufacturer has some in stock that has expired or is close to expiring, the FDA can review whether extending the expiration date is safe. If so, it can free those supplies to be used.

John Smith
February 19, 2012

A very interesting post here, I read an article last week about how this happened too

Anthony Wilson
February 17, 2012

That FDA list would be hard for any layperson to follow. For example, nowhere does it list “ritalin,” which is something I would imagine many people would look for.

February 20, 2012

Anthony, you make a good point. The current shortages list isn’t highly user friendly for lay consumers, and it can be tricky to find a specific drug.

The list is long and goes by the chemical name of the drug. If you google Ritalin you’ll see its chemical name is methylphenidate (and it is on the list). The forms and dosages that are in short supply are found in the company/products column.


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