Investigating drug shortages in the US

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Drug shortages in the US are at a record high [1] and the issue is becoming of increasing concern for patients, clinicians and policymakers. A new report published by IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics (IMS Institute) investigates the problem. The report looks at the size of the drug shortages problem, the causes and how shortages could be prevented or resolved in the future [2].

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The main findings of the report showed that:

  • More than 80% of the drug shortages are generics and 80% injectables.
  • Critical drugs on the shortages list include treatments for cancer, infection, cardiovascular disease, central nervous system conditions and pain.
  • A large number of suppliers are involved, but most drugs on the shortages list have only one or two suppliers.
  • The total supply volume for many products on the shortages list has been stable or growing, but significant volatility exists.
  • The supply volume for a group of 75 products has fallen substantially.
  • Some US states have more severe drug shortages than others.

The IMS analysis is based on the 168 drugs that were on the drug shortages list maintained by FDA and American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) as of 7 October 2011.

The series of four articles that follow present the findings of the report, focusing on causes of shortages, with which drugs the problem lies, supply issues and recommendations for prevention and resolution of future problems.

Related Article

Early warning system for drug shortages in the US

Volume and sales of drugs on the shortages list in the US

Suppliers of products on the drug shortages list in the US

Which drugs are affected by drug shortages in the US


1. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. Some relief from drug shortages in the US []. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2012 Jan 20]. Available from:

2. IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics. Drug Shortages: A closer look at products, suppliers and volume volatility. November 2011.

Source: IMS Health

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