What is the frequency of prescription drug shortages, and what are the adverse patient outcomes related to shortages? Researchers in the service of the pharmaceutical industry took a look recently and found that almost half of pharmacy managers reported experiencing shortages. And the results ranged from inconvenience to death.

Researchers from Northwestern Medicine partnered with MedAssets, as part of the MedAssets Pharmacy Coalition. Almost 200 pharmacy managers responded to a questionnaire that asked them about drug shortages related patient complaints, adverse events, medication errors, patient outcomes, demographics and institutional costs. "Effects on Patient Care Caused by Drug Shortages: A Survey" was published in the November/December issue of the Journal of Managed Care Pharmacy (JMCP).

In general, everyone surveyed said they'd experienced "adverse events" related to drug shortages. Nearly four in 10 said they'd gotten complaints from customers related to drug shortages, and most said shortages were costing them money and even forcing some to dedicate an employee to manage the ramifications of drug shortages to their pharmacy business.

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