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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

Dealing with Drug Shortages

Published August 22, 2011 2:08 PM by Robin Hocevar

Earlier today, the Emergency Nurses Association issued a statement supporting the Preserving Access to Life Saving Medications bill (SB 296), which was recently sponsored by Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Robert Casey (D-PA).

In short, the bill will provide the FDA with improved capacity to prevent drug shortages by requiring drug manufacturers to notify the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) 6 months  or "as soon as practicable" notice of discontinuance or planned interruption.

While this has been a long-documented problem in hospitals, patients in the ED face the most dire consequences as doctors and pharmacists have to quickly recalculate alternative medications. The FDA acknowledged a record number of drug shortages in 2010 and an increasing problem in 2011, especially in the case of older injectable medications.

In a press release, AnnMarie Papa, DNP, RN, CEN,NE-BC, ***, president of the Emergency Nurses Association, said, "Typically, the news of a shortage comes as a surprise with no warning and no opportunity to develop alternate plans. Health care providers should not be the last to know when a pharmaceutical company has a change to raw material supplies, makes adjustments to manufacturer production capabilities, or makes business decisions that affect changes in output."

Holding the drug manufacturers accountable with a mandatory heads up seems like a good first start to resolving this problem. To you emergency nurses who encounter shortages on an increasingly frequent basis: do you think the new legislation goes far enough?




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