DES MOINES, Iowa — Persistent supply challenges have strained some Iowa hospitals as they try to get enough vital medicines, including cancer-fighting drugs, to treat their patients.
“It’s constant, something new just about every day,” said Dr. Jeff Brock, MercyOne Pharmacy. “It takes a lot of time for our staff to deal with them.”
In particular, Brock said that his hospital has dealt with inconsistent supplies of certain drugs used in cancer treatments, along with inhalers. “Most of the times we’ve been able to manage,” Brock said. “But it does require some creative thinking and management of finding alternative products to order in…different strengths sometimes, different sorts of liquids.”
Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines reported that its supply of a drug that’s used in certain chemotherapy treatments — methotrexate — may run out in the next week or so.
Hospitals across the county report shortages of certain drugs due to a variety of factors: supply chain issues, manufacturing delays and a lack of sufficient production of generic drugs.
Brock said that often he doesn’t know why hospitals can’t get the supplies that they need. “It’s often they’ll say it’s a manufacturing issue, a shortage of raw materials. The very common one: increased demand, which we struggle with sometimes when there’s not a huge run on some of these medications all at once. We know if a hurricane took it out. But most of the time we don’t know why certain medications are short.”