Difficulties with medicine supplies were brought to the fore due to the pandemic. Care at pediatric hospitals and clinics is increasingly affected by drug shortages.
Working Group designed to Monitor Medication Supplies
At the beginning of the outbreak, a working group was set up. Their job was to review the supply of medications. As well as identify critical factors involved in the shortages. Pharmacists from all job types met to identify and resolve supply problems. They collaborated with the Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee.
Through their efforts, a pediatric critical drug list was developed. In this way, they could track and monitor key medications. A drug inventory model was designed that included affiliate health care systems. Part of the monitoring included the surge in COVID patients in need of such medicines.
Drug Shortages both Nationally and Internationally
The ability to give high-quality care to inpatients was affected by drug shortages. The scarcity includes the lack of raw materials used to manufacture medications. Disruptions in manufacturing due to staff being out sick or lockdowns. Lack of governmental oversight to provide incentives for manufacturers. Regulatory barriers by local, state, national, and other government organizations.
A list of 210 active medication shortages was recorded in April 2020. There is a shortage of sterile injectable medications. These are essential for the care of critically ill patients.
Guidelines were developed to handle drug shortage management and surge capacity planning. The group focused on essential items and designed a model for inventory evaluation.
How COVID-19 Pandemic impacted Drug Supplies
The pandemic bought to light added issues affecting drug shortages. And highlighted problems with critical medication inventory management. Previously unknown disruptions of active pharmaceutical ingredients came to light.
Global quarantines and reduction in production shifts limited the availability of vital medications. Mass purchasing by health care programs contributed to the decrease in availability.
Recommendations to mitigate drug shortages were put in place during the pandemic. Previously published “essential medications” lists were not comprehensive enough.
Classes of medications were unavailable.
- neuromuscular blocking agents
Buying up the existing inventory of these drugs was financially out of the question. And doing so would compound the supply shortages.
What About Future Supplies of Critical Medications?
The task force developed methods to ensure critical medications will be available. Numerous challenges had to be addressed.
- agreeing on a list of critical medications
- availability of medications changes rapidly
- accuracy in evaluating dosage needs factoring in various weights of children
The group plans to continue to update the critical drug list. They intend an ongoing implementation of their model to prevent active medication shortages. They believe they can now accurately predict supplies.
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