Drug shortages, the self-fulfilling prophecy

It seems that every pharmacy I visit lately has an excess of certain medications bursting from their shelves. It’s a strange thing as discussions involving inventory tend to focus on reduction, not accumulation.

I’ve seen boxes of enoxaparin, midazolam and propofol stacked to the ceiling in pharmacies throughout various parts of the country. When I inquire about the reasons behind the large quantities I typically get one of the following responses: “it’s on backorder so we ordered as much as we could get” or “it was hard to get so we ordered extra”.

Drug shortages have become quite a problem over the past year. ASHP has dedicated significant time and resources to the issue. They’ve even gone as far as establishing a website where you can go for the most up to date information. In addition they’re calling for action to help support the Preserving Access to Life Saving Medications Act.

With that said I think part of the problem is pharmacies over ordering medications on backorder, thus contributing to the shortage. Think about it. Reminds me of the Eric Cartman novel marketing strategy, dubbed the "you-can’t-come" technique. Tell people they can’t have something and the go crazy trying to get it.

There are reasonable alternatives to many of the medications on the drug shortage list. It’s a real shame to see pharmacies not utilizing a better strategy.

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