NCPA survey finds pharmacists facing drug shortages amid pandemic
Nearly 90% of neighborhood pharmacies have experienced drug shortages since March 1, according to a new survey from the National Community Pharmacists Association.
“In communities across the country, the neighborhood pharmacist is the closest health care provider to the patient,” said NCPA CEO Doug Hoey. “We’re trying to meet the community’s needs – whether a patient has an existing condition or someone is facing a new diagnosis – with limited resources. Getting the medicines our patients need is a serious challenge.”
The NCPA survey found that local pharmacists are reporting shortages of albuterol inhalers, hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, and other drugs in high demand since the outbreak. The demand for hydroxychloroquine is especially high since President Trump touted it as a possible treatment for COVID-19.
“Pharmacists work hard to manage supplies and find solutions or alternative, safe, and effective treatment options for patients when some drugs are in short supply,” Hoey said. "The potential disruptions to the drug supply chain we’re seeing are troubling. As we look beyond COVID-19 and move to make our healthcare system more resilient, policymakers must look at ways to increase transparency regarding shortages and to bring more generic drug manufacturing here to the United States.”
According to the NCPA survey, more than half of the respondents said that their pharmacy plans to perform point-of-care COVID-19 testing when available. Additionally, nearly half of independent pharmacists said they have compounded hand sanitizer, and many are donating it to first responders and hospitals where the shortage is most acute.
“Neighborhood pharmacists are the safety net for their communities, retooling their practices to safely fulfill patient needs during this extraordinary time,” Hoey said. “We must ensure that these pharmacies have access to the tools they need to fight this pandemic and continue being there for patients into the future.”
The NCPA survey was conducted from April 9-14. It was sent to roughly 8,000 independent pharmacy owners and managers, with approximately 510 responding.