Supply chain issues impacting pharmacies: what you need to know

The Federal Reserve reported on Wednesday that many parts of the country were hit by supply chain disruptions and labor shortages in November.

While these problems continued into December – with price increases reported to be widespread throughout the U.S. economy – empty shelves aren’t the only problem for Americans.

Pharmacies are reportedly running out of major prescription drugs, and the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) shows that there are about 111 drugs out of stock – including heart medicines, antibiotics and cancer medicines.


The agency said on its website that it “continues to take measures to monitor the supply chain”.

“Drug shortage staff at the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) have asked manufacturers to assess their entire supply chain, including active pharmaceutical ingredients, dosage forms finished products and all the components that may be affected in any area of ​​the supply chain due to the COVID-19 outbreak, “he wrote.

Customers walk past products locked in security cabinets at a Walgreens store that is scheduled to close in the coming weeks on October 13, 2021 in San Francisco. (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images / Getty Images)

The FDA points out that there are a number of reasons why drug shortages can arise, including manufacturing and quality issues, delays, and interruptions.

“Manufacturers provide the FDA with most of the information about drug shortages, and the agency works closely with them to prevent or reduce the impact of shortages,” he said, also reports that approximately 80% of active pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturers are located outside of the United States

A November survey published by the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) found that the majority of independent pharmacy owners and managers struggle to fill positions and cope with supply chain disruptions, in addition to market pressures.

Sixty percent of those polled said they face supply chain disruptions and almost 70% said they have difficulty filling positions.

According to the group, 76% said they were concerned about possible small business tax hikes and 64% were also worried about inflation.

Shelves are nearly empty at a drugstore and convenience store on October 26, 2021 in New York City. (Spencer Platt / Getty Images / Getty Images)

Only 31% of respondents described the overall financial health of their business as very good or somewhat good, 28% described it as average and 41% described it as somewhat bad or very bad.

“Pharmacists have worked heroically throughout the pandemic, so it’s disturbing to see insurance intermediaries pushing so many of these small business owners to the limit,” said NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, in a press release. “Policymakers in Congress, the Biden administration, and the states should keep this in mind. They can make important policy changes to lower the prices of drugs for the elderly and protect small businesses, like the elimination of DIR pharmacy fees. “


“Between COVID-19 vaccine deployments for children, recalls and seasonal flu shots – in addition to their other existing patient care services – pharmacies are severely limited, while patients have more than ever before. “, did he declare. “Independent pharmacies are the safety nets protecting their communities, and owners are working overtime, securing their own wages and doing whatever they can to answer the call. Policymakers need to fix the flawed prescription drug payment model to better support pharmacy teams; successful pharmacies mean healthier, happier lives for patients. “

A person walks out of a Rite Aid drugstore on May 27, 2021 in New York City.

A person walks out of a Rite Aid drugstore on May 27, 2021 in New York City. (Noam Galai / Getty Images / Getty Images)

A report from the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists warned earlier this year that supply chain disruptions amid the COVID-19 pandemic have the potential to negatively impact patient care.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, President Biden assured that “for the vast majority of the country” store shelves will not be empty as a result of actions taken by his administration in partnership with businesses and workers, retailers, grocery stores, freight carriers and railways.

Biden cited measures to reduce congestion by extending the hours of operation at the California ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, partnering with a major ocean carrier to offer a $ 100 rebate when containers are picked up quickly and by offering additional flexibility to truckers until February.

President Biden gestures to reporters after returning to the White House on December 2, 2021, in Washington, DC

President Biden gestures to reporters after returning to the White House on December 2, 2021, in Washington, DC (Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images / Getty Images)

The president said the measures “would help move goods faster and get the products people want on store shelves across the country,” also noting that the number of containers left at docks has fallen by 40 %.

Biden said the United States is heading into the holiday season in “very good shape.”

However, Tom D’Angelo, president of the Pharmacists Society of the State of New York, told the Long Island Newsday Monday that “a lot of things are stuck on barges,” including generic blood pressure pills and cold and flu medicine.

“People find it difficult to get articles, but so far it is not life threatening,” he said.

Nidhin Mohan, pharmacist and owner of New Island Pharmacy in Deer Park, told the newspaper there are fewer options when it comes to some brands, including branded ibuprofen.


“There are fewer options every day,” he said. “When it becomes a shortage or a complete exhaustion of available options – I don’t know. I’m starting to feel the pressure. “

But patients are advised not to panic – or panic buying – even though local pharmacists say they face longer waits for medical equipment and over-the-counter drugs.

Instead, patients should call their pharmacies to check their supply, keep a journal of what they take and how much, and talk to a doctor about a potential alternative.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.