The Food and Drug Administration identified 39 new drug and biological product shortages in 2017, up from 26 in 2016, and 41 ongoing shortages from prior years, according to the agency’s latest annual report on the issue. “Although the number of new drug shortages has declined since 2011 as a result of work by many groups including the FDA, shortages continue to pose a real challenge to public health,” the report states. “This is especially the case when a shortage involves a critical drug to treat cancer, to provide parenteral nutrition, or to address another serious medical condition, such as the shortage of intravenous saline solution. While there has been a steady decrease in new shortages over the past few years, 2017 has been a challenging year for shortages. First, there was a major manufacturer who shut down a facility for remediation purposes resulting in loss of manufacturing capacity needed for the supplies of numerous products. Critically, disruptions were also caused in the fall of 2017 by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria – the latter of which ravaged Puerto Rico, an island that is home to numerous manufacturing facilities.” The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, AHA and other organizations last year convened a Drug Shortages Roundtable, which issued policy recommendations to minimize the impact of drug shortages on patient care.

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