Anesthesiologists Call for Drug Shortage Investigation

05 Oct

According to the American Society of Anesthesiologists, its urging for a serious investigation into the drug shortage problem is paying off as the U.S. government is going to heed its call.
The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee held a hearing on September 23 referred to as “Examining the Increase in Drug Shortages.” Members of the Drug Shortage Summit Legislative and Regulatory Work Group were among those testifying before a Congressional panel. The group, which formed November of 2010, functions as a coalition to advance drug shortage solutions.

On September 26, the Food and Drug Administration held a workshop open to the public on drug shortages. ASA Vice President for Scientific Affairs, Arnold Berry, M.D. presented a report on the impact drug shortages are having on anesthesiologists and their patients.

In April, the ASA took a survey to keep anesthesiologists and the public abreast on what  is going on with drug shortages and how it’s impacting doctors and patients. Here are some of the highlights:

– 90.4 percent of respondents say they are currently experiencing a shortage of at least one anesthesia drug.

– 98.1 percent of respondents say they have had a shortage of at least one anesthesia drug in the last year.
– The anesthesia drugs with the highest frequency of reported current shortage are Neostigmine (56.9%), Thiopental (54.7%), Succinylcholine (47.6%), and Propofol (40.3%)

– The anesthesia drugs with the highest frequency of reported shortage over the last year are Propofol (89.3%), Succinylcholine (80.4%), and Thiopental (60.2%)

How has the shortage effected patients? According to the survey:

– 49.2 percent of patients did not experience an optimal outcome, which meant post-op nausea and vomiting.

– 49.1 percent of patients experienced longer OR or recovery times
Respondents said that drug shortages had the following impacts on their practice:

– 91.8 percent had to use alternative drugs
– 51.1 percent had to change the procedure in some way
– 6 percent had to postpone cases
– 4.1 percent had to cancel cases