Drug shortages: Sandoz crisis prompts hospitals to kick drug habit

Sandoz may find that demand for its intravenous drugs may not be what it once was.

This winter the multi-national drug company was pressured by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to fix problems with the production line at its Boucherville, Quebec plant. The result was a dramatic cut in production to retool the line, affecting delivery of intravenous drugs to hospitals across Canada.

Hospitals were left scrambling, wondering why Sandoz hadn’t given them more notice of the problem. Sandoz was aware of the problem in November, but didn’t notify hospitals until February.

Peterborough This Week recently reported that since the shortage began, the Peterborough Regional Health Centre has coped well, including cutting its morphine usage in half. No surgeries have been cancelled.

“Many of the new measures put in place this year will most likely long outlast the shortage,” Arnel Shiratti, director of strategic communications and engagement at PRHC, told the newspaper.

The hospital credits the pharmacy team and the anesthesiologists for guiding the hospital through this unplanned shortage.

Health Canada said it would fast track approvals to import alternate supplies from outside the country.

Production at the plant is not expected to deal with the national shortages until mid to late 2013.

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