In recent years we have seen the duties of the Pharmacy Technician change. They have gone from just assisting the Pharmacist to preparing IV medication, compounding liquid and powdered medications and, more recently, to helping to develop drug shortage protocols.
We all know that medication shortage is a hot issue these days. From your everyday maintenance medications like Adderall to antibiotics like Cipro to treat a kidney infection, shortages can affect almost anyone. Currently we are seeing shortages in the following medications: Adderall, Avalide, Cyanocobalamin, Insulin glulisine, Concerta, and Tetracycline.
How does a medication shortage occur? The possibilities could include manufacturing issues including shortages in raw materials, a discontinuation of products, limited capacity for manufacturing, or the consolidation of pharmaceutical companies. The occurrence of these issues can cause patient safety to be compromised. As an integral part of the Pharmacy team, the Pharmacy Technician can be utilized as a pharmacy purchaser or buyer. In this, the Pharmacy Technician plays a crucial role in assisting the Pharmacist and their team with the procurement of medications and the management of inventory.
How can a pharmacy team help prevent shortages from occurring?
First: Get to know the patients. Having a firm knowledge of who your patients are, the medications they take, and the time of month they pick up their medication can help to greatly reduce the risk of not having the right medication in stock.
Second: Take inventory often. Perpetual inventory is a requirement of the DEA for CII narcotic medications. This means that the pharmacy knows exactly how much medication is in stock at any given time. If this could be applied to all medications, or at least the most common, some shortages could be avoided.
Lastly: Prepare for the first day of the month. Many patients opt to get their medications refilled on the first of the month. Ordering common maintenance medications at the end of the month could also help to reduce medication shortage issues.