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Drug shortage fixes can ready US for disasters; IOM

22-Mar-2012
Last updated on 22-Mar-2012 at 12:46 GMT

Experience handling the wave of drug shortages in the US can improve disaster response plans, the IOM wrote.

Drug shortages have forced people at each step in the biopharmaceutical supply chain to assess how to make best use of limited resources. While this has had a negative effect on healthcare, in the long-term it could prove beneficial in a disaster situation when drugs are hard to source.

Proactive approaches to drug shortages provide a model and support for other disaster response activities”, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) wrote in a report commissioned by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

As hospitals and other players in the supply chain resolve drug shortages in a non-disaster situation the IOM hopes they will develop processes and guidelines that will help in an emergency.

Part of the preparation for healthcare professionals is drafting “plans should promote the fair and equitable use of scarce resources”, the IOM wrote. It is obviously better to avoid shortages though and the IOM advocates the use of stockpiles to help supplies continue to flow even after disasters.

Federal, state, and local governments are already building stockpiles but the IOM wants more to be done. “Disaster planning should take into account the potential benefits of stockpiling palliative care medications at accessible sites, including away from acute care hospitals”, the IOM wrote.

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