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Invited Commentary
Oct 22, 2012

Drug Shortages and Clinicians: Comment on “Coping With Critical Drug Shortages”

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Women's College Research Institute, Women's College Hospital, and Department of Medicine and Institute of Health Policy, Management, and Evaluation, University of Toronto,Toronto, Ontario, Canada (Dr Rochon); and Meyers Primary Care Institute (a joint endeavor of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Reliant Medical Group, and Fallon Community Health Plan) and Division of Geriatric Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester (Dr Gurwitz).

Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(19):1499-1500. doi:10.1001/2013.jamainternmed.332

Prescription drug shortages are something few clinicians would have anticipated as a challenge for developed countries such as Canada and the United States. Yet, drug shortages are now appreciated as a global problem.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has defined a drug shortage as being when “the total supply of all clinically interchangeable versions of an FDA-regulated drug is inadequate to meet the current or projected demand at the patient level.”1(p8) The list of drug therapies in short supply almost tripled between 2005 and 2010, with 178 drug shortages identified in 2010.1 From January through October 2011, there were 220 shortages reported by the FDA.2

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