U.S. hospitals are coping better with ongoing shortages of hundreds of medications, but a new survey indicates obtaining those drugs from alternate sources is costing them hundreds of millions of dollars.
Premier Inc., the hospital group that did the survey, conservatively estimates that cost at $230 million a year for the country's 5,000 hospitals. That doesn't include costs for additional workers or overtime hours for staff searching for scarce drugs, as well as some other extra costs, which come out of hospitals' already razor-thin profit margins.
Shortages of drugs, particularly generic injectable drugs that had been cheap, have escalated since 2005. While the number of new shortages has declined recently, the total of new and prolonged shortages keeps climbing. Causes include quality problems, recalls and the small number of manufacturers.