Shortages Shown by Antibacterial Supply Patterns, Access Issues


Prescribers are presented with the optimal therapy challenges and achieving antibacterial stewardship.

Photo of pills with "antibiotic 250 mg" written on them.   (Adobe Stock, unknown.)

Photo of pills with "antibiotic 250 mg" written on them.

(Adobe Stock, unknown.)

(This article first appeared in our sister brand,

For some years, one of the ongoing difficulties has been the shortfalls of antibacterial supplies available to prescribers and their patients.

A new study, Trends and Duration of Antibacterial Drug Supply Chain Issues in the U.S., January 2017–June 2022, presented at 2023 SHEA conference, held in Seattle, Washington, from April 11-14, illuminated the issue.

“Of 105 antibacterials purchased in the US, 74 (70%) had a supply chain issue for ≥1 month from 1/15/2017-6/30/2022. Combined, the 74 agents had 1611 total months of supply chain issues over the 66-month study period,” the investigators wrote.

The University of Pittsburgh investiga

tors looked at the FDA and the American Society for Health-Systems Pharmacists (ASHP) websites for manufacturer reports for supply issues. For each month within the study period, an antibacterial was considered as having a supply chain issue if an FDA or ASHP shortage or recall report overlapped with that month for ≥15 days or if discontinuation had occurred within the previous 3 months.

The total months of supply chain issues were summed for antibacterials overall at the agent formulation-, and class-levels. The Mann-Kendall test determined the significance of supply chain issue trends.

Interestingly, certain classes saw greater shortfalls. “Agents from the penicillin class were most frequently impacted (80% of penicillins had supply chain issues for 206 months), but cephalosporins had supply chain issues for the longest duration (66% of cephalosporins for 653 months),” the investigators wrote.

The investigators acknowledged that the supply chain issues have been ongoing and are not improving. And what remains is a whole host of issues for the prescribers and patients. “Drug supply chain issues cause significant strain on healthcare, including drug procurement, access to optimal therapy, and provides challenges to prescribing and antimicrobial stewardship.”

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