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Most European hospitals face medicines shortages

Survey finds 86% of hospital pharmacists are experiencing difficulties in sourcing medicines

pharmacist 

Medicine shortages are affecting all countries in Europe according to a new report by the European Association of Hospital Pharmacists (EAHP).

The Association, which surveyed over 600 countries in 36 European countries, found 86% of hospital pharmacists are experiencing difficulties in sourcing medicines, with 66% reporting this as a daily or weekly problem.

Of those surveyed, 75% either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement 'medicines shortages in my hospital are having a negative impact on patient care'.

They cited consequences for patients including delayed or interrupted chemotherapy treatment, unnecessary experience by patients of side effects, heightened clostridium difficile risk and deterioration in patients' conditions.

Launching the report at the Brussels Press Club, EAHP president Dr Roberto Frontini said: “Two things always shock me about the medicines shortages problem in Europe; its scale, and the known impacts it is having on patient safety and welfare.

“As our report makes clear, medicines shortages are a cross border threat to patient welfare and the time for EU action is now.”

Hospital pharmacists also reported the huge costs in time diverted to sourcing alternative supplies, increased stress and confusion within safety critical working environments, the frequent high costs of procuring alternative medicines than those prescribed and the cancellation of service improvements due to resources needing to be reallocated to deal with medicine shortages.

Frontini commented: “We need improved systems for ensuring early reporting of medicines supply disruptions, with causes, likely duration and available alternatives notified to healthcare professionals.

“We need a step to change in the recording of information about the problem, which could be addressed by the European Medicines Agency developing a database of medicines in shortage across Europe replicating that of its counterpart in the US.

“We need criteria for a fair distribution in case of shortages based of patient's needs and not on commercial interests. Finally, we need an urgent sense of responsibility to be adopted by the European Commission in leading both investigation and resolution of the problem.”

Article by
Kirstie Pickering

17th November 2014

From: Regulatory

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