Why Are There So Many Drug Shortages?

Mark Mercure, Pharmacist

Home Health Care Pharmacy

If you take several prescription medications, it is somewhat likely that your pharmacy have difficulty in consistently obtaining a supply of your medication. When picking up a prescription, your pharmacist may explain that a switch in generic makers of a drug has to be made to continue to fill your prescription. Other patients may experience delays in when their medication is available after they order a refill. In other cases, pharmacists are contacting doctors to discuss alternative medications for their patients when a drug cannot be obtained at all.

But why is this happening so much lately? There must be a reason that, when your pharmacist places an order for stock of prescription drugs, only half of the order is arriving at the pharmacy. When this happens, your pharmacist is left with extra work to manage the shortfall in the order. Everyone would acknowledge that pharmacists’ and doctors’ time is better spent helping patients with their specific health concerns, rather than dealing with shortages of medications.

The causes of the shortages are complex, poorly understood, and almost certainly vary from one drug to another. Some blame the pharmaceutical companies practices, some point to the price controls on generic medications, while others point to government regulations and the lack of a robust pharmaceutical manufacturing industry in Canada. For a full discussion of the potential causes of the drug shortages and interesting links, visit http://www.canadadrugshortage.com/causes/.

The Canadian Pharmaceutical Association has called on the Government of Canada to clarify its position on the exportation of Canadian medications to other countries, and to put measures in place to protect our drug supply from the impact of legislative changes in the United States. You can read more from the CPhA here: https://www.pharmacists.ca/news-events/news/drug-shortages-have-greatly-increased-over-the-past-3-5-years-say-canadian-pharmacists/

Super Thrifty pharmacists are working hard to minimize any impact that drug shortages have on their patients, and are always open to discussing any concerns that you may have about your medication.

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