Physician approaches to drug shortages: Results of a national survey of pediatric hematologist/oncologists

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AIM: To evaluate personnel involved in scarce drug prioritization and distribution and the criteria used to inform drug distribution during times of shortage among pediatric hematologists/oncologists. METHODS: Using the American Society of Pediatric Hematology/ Oncology (ASPHO) membership list, a 20 question survey of pediatric hematologists/oncologists was conducted via email to evaluate personnel involved in scarce drug prioritization and distribution and criteria used to inform scarce drug distribution. RESULTS: Nearly 65% of the 191 study respondents had patients directly affected by drug shortages. Most physicians find out about shortages from the pharmacist (n = 179, 98%) or other doctors (n = 75, 41%). One third of respondents do not know if there is a program or policy for handling drug shortages at their institution. The pharmacist was the most commonly cited decision maker for shortage drug distribution (n = 128, 70%), followed by physicians (n = 109, 60%). One fourth of respondents did not know who makes decisions about shortage drug distribution at their institution. The highest priority criterion among respondents was use of the shortage drug for curative, rather than palliative intent and lowest priority criterion was order of arrival or first-come first-served CONCLUSION: Despite pediatric hematology/oncology physicians and patients being heavily impacted by drug shortages, institutional processes for handling shortages are lacking. There is significant disparity between how decisions for distribution of shortage drugs are currently made and how study respondents felt those decisions should be made. An institution-based, and more importantly, a societal approach to drug shortages is necessary to reconcile these disparities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)336-342
Number of pages7
JournalWorld Journal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 10 2017



  • Chemotherapy
  • Ethics
  • Pediatric hematology/oncology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology

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