Pharmacists report record number of drug shortages in 20 years

In 2024, the first three months saw a total of 323 active drug shortages, the highest number since 2001. This data was collected quarterly from reports provided by health-care professionals, primarily pharmacists working in hospitals and health systems. According to Erin Fox, lead researcher and director of the Drug Information Service at the University of Utah, the team follows up with drug companies to confirm the existence of a shortage, determine the cause, and estimate the duration of the shortage. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists then publishes these findings on their website.

The Drug Information Service’s definition of a drug shortage is broader than that of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), resulting in larger shortage numbers reported by Utah compared to the FDA. For example, if a drugstore has an adult-strength over-the-counter medicine but lacks the children’s version, Utah researchers would classify it as a shortage while the FDA may not. The drugs currently experiencing shortages include chemotherapy agents, antibiotics, medications for ADHD, and pain medications. There are also deficits in medications used in hospital crash carts and mobile units that provide emergency interventions during cardiac or respiratory arrest.

Based on direct contact with drug companies, manufacturing issues and supply chain difficulties are cited as primary reasons for shortages within

By Sophia Gonzalez

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