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Hospitals Adapting Amid Continued Drug Shortages

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, March 4, 2014

While new drug shortages impacting patient care have lessened, the supply chain remains vulnerable to drug shortage 'spikes', says an executive from the group purchasing organization, Premier.

Drug shortages remain widespread and hospitals spent nearly $700 million over three years to cover the additional costs of finding more expensive generic substitutes, according to a survey and analysis from the group purchasing organization, Premier.

"It's clear that this remains to be a very serious problem that continues to impact patient care and it creates major challenges for our healthcare system and other providers," Premier COO Mike Alkire said on a conference call with media last week.

The Premier survey of 124 "pharmacy experts" conducted in December 2013 and January 2014 found that 90% of respondents experience some sort of drug shortage within the last six months. Alkire says those results are similar to those found in a Premier survey conducted in 2010 at the height of the drug shortage crisis.

"Although recent reports show that new drug shortages have decreased, longer-standing, ongoing drug shortages remain an issue," he said.

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