ASHP Calls for Policy Solutions as Drug Shortages Reach All-Time High

Dear Colleagues,

Last summer, ASHP shared findings from our most recent survey of drug shortages and called for action on what was a near-record number of active, ongoing shortages.

The situation has worsened since then.

During the first quarter of 2024, ASHP and our partner, the University of Utah Drug Information Service, tracked 323 active shortages. This is an all-time high, surpassing the previous record of 320 shortages in 2014.

All drug classes are vulnerable to shortages. Some of the most worrying shortages involve generic sterile injectable medications, including cancer chemotherapy drugs and emergency medications stored in hospital crash carts and procedural areas. Ongoing national shortages of therapies for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder also remain a serious challenge for clinicians and patients.

For more than two decades, ASHP has actively monitored drug shortages and developed vital strategies that help our members minimize the effects of shortages on pharmacy operations and patient care. Managing drug shortages is a critical component of ASHP’s national meetings and in our educational programming.

But we all know that managing shortages isn’t enough and is not a sustainable solution to the worsening crisis. That’s why ASHP has long prioritized advocacy supporting solutions to reduce drug shortages.

We have built strong relationships with stakeholders outside of pharmacy who have a role in ending drug shortages. ASHP was selected to be a member of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Joint Supply Chain Working Group to advise HHS agencies on their response to drug and medical device shortages.

ASHP joined a White House-sponsored roundtable in July, along with manufacturers, providers, and others, to discuss national shortages in key cancer medications and provide steps we believe the federal government could take to expand availability and access to medications.

ASHP’s Policy Solutions to Address the Drug Shortage Crisis, released last year, provide specific guidance to Congress and regulators about actions they can take to prevent shortages. ASHP also testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health, where we outlined our proposed solutions to address generic drug shortages, and Congress incorporated several of our recommendations in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Recovery Act in 2020.

It’s gratifying that several of our most recent recommendations are now being considered by policymakers in the White House, Congress, and HHS. However, ASHP has serious concerns about HHS’ proposed financial penalties for hospitals that lack the resources to stockpile medications and take other suggested steps to mitigate shortages.

Much work remains to be done at the federal level to fix the root causes of drug shortages. ASHP will continue to engage with policymakers regularly as we guide efforts to draft and pass new legislation to address drug shortages and continue to strongly advocate on behalf of our members for solutions that work.

It’s long past time to put an end to drug shortages.

Thank you for all you do for your patients and our profession.



Posted on April 11, 2024