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In short supply: tackling the drug shortage crisis

Sarah Blackman

Pharmaceutical Technology

1 November 2012


PA’s Malcolm Horsely, life science and healthcare expert, is quoted in an article on the ongoing issue of drug shortages in the developed world. Malcolm talks about how changes in legislature and better forecasting of demand signals can help reverse severe drug shortages.

Commenting on why some shortages could be caused by difficulties in manufacturing and limited funding, Malcolm says: “It is telling that so much of the shortage reporting has been around generic products. There is no reason why a generic should be more prone to supply interruptions than a proprietary product, but one is tempted to wonder whether the lower margins in generic manufacturing do lead to a lack of investment in products that could be interpreted as lower quality.”

Malcolm, goes on to talk about how the NHS sometimes pays more than it has to for pharmaceutical and nonpharmaceutical products by adopting a strategy of dual sourcing wherever it makes sense: “The result is that the NHS is arguably less likely to run out of stock than a healthcare provider which single-sources at the lowest available price and switches whenever that price changes.”

Malcolm talks about why the way in which manufactures make their decision to withdraw from the market needs to be better understood by their customers, he argues that “if a certain volume of product is needed, those that buy it would be wise to consider whether they are able to give a long-term contractual volume guarantee, thus dramatically improving demand signalling.”

Malcolm continues: “This allows the manufacturers not just to be certain of making any investments in quality that might be appropriate, but also to enter into contracts or other deals with secondary suppliers to de-risk the situation for everyone. This is not always the cheapest option but in some cases it may be more reliable.”

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