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Preparing for COVID-19 Related Drug Shortages

Preparing for COVID-19 Related Drug Shortages

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted all aspects of healthcare delivery. There is widespread concern that increased clinical demands due to the virus will outstrip available
resources. Much attention has focused on how to view these suddenly urgent issues of distributive justice through the established lens of public health ethics.

The majority of these discussions have focused on how to prioritize and ration selected resources, namely personal protective equipment, intensive care unit beds, and ventilators. While these are indeed critical conversations, the pharmaceutical drug supply, historically threatened, remains incredibly vulnerable at this time.

Indeed, providing care to those who are critically ill both with and without COVID-19 presupposes the availability of essential medications to treat their pain, sedate them, address secondary infections, and maintain their blood pressure.

Drug shortages represent an ongoing public health crisis that predates COVID-19.

The unavailability of life-saving medications engenders incremental expenses, patient harm, and increased medical errors, causing widespread trepidation in oncology, critical care, infectious disease, and innumerable other settings.

June 13, 2020

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