Antibacterial Supply Patterns Demonstrate Shortages, Access Issues to Therapies


With limited amounts of antibacterials, prescribers are presented with optimal therapy challenges as well as difficulties in trying to achieve stewardship.

One of the ongoing difficulties for some years now 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, that was presented at this week’s SHEA conference 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 investigators from the University of Pittsburgh looked at 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 a FDA or ASHP shortage or recall report overlapped with that month for ≥15 days, or if a 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 do not appear to be improving. And what remains are 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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