OCTOBER 21, 2020

You can add a new worry to the health concerns caused by Covid-19: a sustained shortage of a medicines needed to combat the coronavirus and countless other illnesses.

Across the U.S. and Europe, 29 out of 40 drugs used to combat the coronavirus are currently in short supply. And those shortages are expected to grow even worse as the number of Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations surge in the coming winter months, according to a new report by the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota*.

Moreover, the problem is likely to be exacerbated by the vagaries of the global pharmaceutical supply chain, which is heavily dependent on China for active pharmaceutical ingredients and manufacturers based in India. As of now, 43% — or 67 of 156 — of acute care medicines used to treat various illnesses are running low. This group includes such staples as antibiotics, blood thinners, and sedatives.
See: *a new report by the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.

COVID-19: The CIDRAP Viewpoint

October 21, 2020

Part 6: Ensuring a Resilient US Prescription Drug Supply

Stephen W. Schondelmeyer, PharmD, PhD, MPubAdm James Seifert, JD, MPH, MS
David J. Margraf, PharmD, MS
Melissa Mueller, MPH
Ian Williamson, MBA

Chris Dickson
Divya Dasararaju, MS Claire Caschetta Nicholas Senne
Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH


An ongoing crisis plagues US healthcare, limits reliable access to critical drugs, and results in seriousconsequences for patients who need these drugs. Over the past few years, the United States has had morethan 250 drug shortages at any point,1 many for critical medications, including both acute drugs for treating emergency situations and chronic drugs for managing serious long-term conditions. And shortages remain a perennial problem. Even though drug shortages have been recognized and tracked in the United States since2001, the situation has not signi cantly improved in more than two decades.2

Impact of COVID-19 on the Drug Supply Chain

Emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 has severely stressed the US drug supply chain. COVID-19 has jolted the global pharmaceutical market at all levels and production points. The supply side has been disrupted by production factory closures, shipping delays or shutdowns, and trade limitations or export bans. The demand side has seen dramatically increased need for COVID-19 therapies worldwide.

Shortages have limited critical drugs for treating COVID-19 patients, including propofol, albuterol, midazolam, hydroxychloroquine, cisatracurium, rocuronium, fentanyl, azithromycin, vancomycin, and others.