Europen Journal of Hospital Pharmacy, March 2019 – Volume 26 – 2

Aims and objectives: The aim of the 2018 EAHP Survey on Medicines Shortages was to provide a clearer picture on the issue of medicines shortages, including the impact on hospital pharmacists’ time, budgets and the effect on patient care.

Methods: A survey was conducted by the EAHP, collecting information from European hospital pharmacists on the shortage situation in their respective countries. The survey ran from 19 March 2018 to 11 June 2018. Keele University, UK analysed and compared the results to those of the 2014 survey.

Results: There were 1666 responses to the 2018 survey, which represented a threefold increase from the 2014 survey which received 607 responses. Ninety per cent of respondents answered ‘Yes’ when asked if shortages of medicines are a current problem in delivering the best care to patients, while only 7% of respondents answered ‘No’, and 3% ’Unsure’. Problems with shortages of antimicrobials were most commonly reported (77% of respondents reporting this as an issue in 2018 vs 57% in 2014), followed by preventative medicines (43% in 2018 vs 20% in 2014) and anaesthetics (39% in 2018 vs 27% in 2014). Fifty-nine per cent of respondents have seen care delayed as a consequence of medication shortages, with cancellations of care (31% of respondents), medication errors (25% of respondents) and suboptimal treatment for patients (25% of respondents) also being frequently reported. Sixty-three per cent of respondents reported having had to pay a higher price to procure from alternate sources most of the time or always when there was a shortage of a medicine.

Conclusions: Medicines shortages is an increasing problem across Europe and is having an adverse impact on patient care. Medicines shortages are adding to hospital pharmacists’ time pressures and have an adverse budgetary impact. More timely information about impending shortages and how long they will last is seen as necessary to help manage the problem.

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