WVXU: Patients continue to feel the pain of prescription drug shortages

The University of Cincinnati's Emma Palmer joined WVXU's Cincinnati Edition to discuss recent national shortages of a variety of prescription drugs and the effect it has had on patients.

Many factors, including current regulations, higher rates of diagnosis and manufacturing issues, have contributed to the shortages for drugs to treat conditions including cancer, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and diabetes.

"Some of the challenges that community pharmacies are facing are with the supply chain in terms of the amount of medications that can be ordered without geting a red flag essentially," said Palmer, PharmD, associate professor at UC's James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy. "So there’s a lot of fear and structure that has been built in to try to ensure that pharmacies are ordering appropriate amounts of medication, but they can’t always anticipate supply/demand appropriately."

Palmer said pharmacists and other members of a patient's treatment team work together to find alternatives if a specific medication is unavailable. But with many different formulations and each patient responding to medications differently, it is not always easy to find a replacement.

"If drug companies struggle to create the products that are in demand, and patients have specific products that they resopnd to, they may be scrambling to try to find another release or another formulation that may not be as beneficial for them," she said.

Patients can also struggle finding a pharmacy that can fill their full prescription, especially when prescriptions for Schedule 2 medications have time limitations before they expire.

"It’s not like someone can easily go to multiple pharmacies and get 10 pills here, 10 pills here, so a lot of families, a lot of patients have had to do a lot of calling around trying to find pharmacies that have the products in stock and trying to coordinate getting the prescription and getting it to the pharmacy in a timely manner before someone else gets those pills," Palmer said.

Listen to the Cincinnati Edition segment.

Featured photo at top of a woman speaking with her pharmacist. Photo/Drazen Zigic/iStock.

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