Persistent sterile injectable drugs shortages put patients at risk

­Hospitals experiencing a shortage of generic sterile injectable drugs will likely see a spike in their mortality rates, according to a new study.

Researchers have found a “strong and consistent” link between between norepinephrine shortages and increased septic shock mortality rates in hospitals, according to a study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Norepinephrine is the primary treatment for septic shock, which is one of the leading causes of death in hospitals. Without it, hospitals have to pay more for substitute drugs.

Mortality rate for septic shock patients increased 3.7% during norepinephrine shortages, from from 35.9% during non-shortage quarters to 39.6% during shortage quarters, according to 2008-2013 data from 26 hospitals analyzed in the JAMA study.

“It shows that shortages are more than just inconveniences and labor intensive for pharmacies – there is real patient harm when shortages occur,” said Erin Fox, director of drug information at the University of Utah Health Care’s drug information service.

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