Pittsburgh-Area Hospital Pharmacists Manage Persistent Drug Shortages

In hospitals near Pittsburgh, the drug shortage problem is becoming increasingly evident. Medication experts, including Rebecca Taylor, who leads the Pharmacy Services at UPMC, are grappling with difficulties with the supply of medicines. The issue escalates each year and is now at its peak: 323 types of medications are currently unavailable, the highest number since tracking began in 2001.

Mostly, it’s the cheaper meds and the ones given through a drip that we’re low on. This makes the pharmacy staff update their computer systems a lot so they can tell doctors which meds to use and which are out of stock. “It primarily affects us in the drugs that are available as generics and the drugs that are available as IV. So, we do spend a considerable amount of time managing and changing and fixing things in our electronic system to help the doctors go to the drugs that we do have and shift them away from the drugs that we don’t have,” said Taylor to CBSNews.

These medication shortages have a far-reaching impact, from cancer treatments to painkillers. The shortages are not just a logistical problem for hospitals; they also significantly complicate healthcare, altering how patients are treated and cared for.

A big reason for this mess is many meds are made far away. The whole world feels it when factories outside the US have a problem. Hospitals end up in a tight spot since there aren’t many backup options. “With many cheap drugs being made abroad, a hiccup in those places means we have few backup options,” Taylor noted.

Healthcare professionals at UPMC are working hard to shield patients and medical staff from the adverse effects of these shortages. Taylor admits their dedication, with one to three drug experts always on the job, and that they try to minimize patient suffering. However, she expresses concern for patients in remote areas where they have limited access to medical help. So, the struggle to obtain necessary medications feels harder.

Yet, there’s a bit of hope. Lawmakers are starting to see how big this problem is, and there might be new laws that could help fix drug prices and inform us about shortages sooner. “There’s been a lot of recognition by our legislators in how big of an issue this is and trying to implement changes in drug pricing and notify us ahead of time. So, I would say that’s probably our best path forward for change”, Taylor said positively.

So, for now, coming up with ways to deal with insufficient meds is just part of what UPMC drug experts do daily. They’ve become quite skilled at it. Taylor finished, “We’ve become, honestly, pretty good at it. And again, our number one concern is keeping the patient as safe as we can,” Fighting these shortages shows us how strong and flexible healthcare professionals must be in the tricky world of medicine today.

Nick Alexson

Nick Alexson spent many years working in the field of healthcare, especially in its technical part. Gained much experience in Open Data and Machine Readable Formats used in the industry. Also, built several IT projects that were designed to help people with their healthcare decisions. Now he is an editor and author of Pharmacy Near Me

Be the first to comment on "Pittsburgh-Area Hospital Pharmacists Manage Persistent Drug Shortages"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.