Drug Shortages

Ensuring Safe, Effective Drugs Are Available to Patients

HDA and our pharmaceutical distributor members regularly work with policymakers, regulators and other supply chain stakeholders to tackle complex drug supply issues and help ensure the availability of safe and effective medicines.   

Product manufacturing

Why Do Shortages Occur? 

Product shortages, whether pharmaceuticals, healthcare products or medical supplies, are caused by many factors, including market-wide supply constraints, product-specific manufacturing issues, and reimbursement and market access limitations.

Other times, as was the case during the initial COVID-19 response, shortages occur due to a sharp rise in demand exceeding available supply. Disruptions in product availability and strain on existing supply chains have underlined the need for solutions to ensure adequate supply for patients.

Learn more about supply-driven and demand-driven shortages.

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Distributors Help Manage and Mitigate Shortages

HDA pharmaceutical distributor members work at both ends of the supply chain — between 1,500 manufacturers and nearly 330,000 provider customers — to minimize disruptions for patients. Distributors regularly monitor for spikes in demand or dips in availability for products and proactively communicate with manufacturers, industry partners and regulators. When shortages do occur, distributors actively work to mitigate the impact on providers and patients.

Distribution Center

HDA Policy Platform on Drug Shortages

There are several areas where supply chain stakeholders and the government can work together to address drug shortages:

  • Strengthening partnerships between the public and private sectors;
  • Identifying strategic federal investments in domestic manufacturing capabilities; and,
  • Taking steps to stabilize the generics market.

HDA, with the guidance and expertise of its members, developed a set of guiding principles to inform how distributors approach policies and leading practices related to drug shortages. Read the guiding principles.

The industry is eager to partner with legislators, regulators and our supply chain partners on solutions to this complicated challenge. Read our policy agenda.


Our Advocacy Work on Behalf of Members 

HDA reviews key priority issues and advocates on behalf of its pharmaceutical distributor members in areas like standards, public policies and business processes. HDA members have a powerful, unique voice and perspective and an opportunity to help educate lawmakers and inform public policy.

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