Drug shortages? There’s an FDA app for that

By Fiona BARRY

- Last updated on GMT

The public can use the FDA's app to discover or report drug shortages. (Image: Highways Agency)
The public can use the FDA's app to discover or report drug shortages. (Image: Highways Agency)

Related tags Drug shortages Food and drug administration Fda

The US FDA has turned to smartphone technology to fight drug shortages with an app aimed at doctors, pharmacists and patients.

The mobile tool can alert the public to current drug shortages, resolved supply problems, and discontinuations.

The FDA understands that health care professionals and pharmacists need real-time information about drug shortages to make treatment decisions,​” said Valerie Jensen, associate director of the Drug Shortage Staff at the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

The new mobile app is an innovative tool that will offer easier and faster access to important drug shortage information.​”

Users can search the app by a drug’s generic name or active ingredient, and browse by therapeutic category.

The app, free to download via iTunes​ and the Google Play store,​ can also be used to report a suspected drug shortage or supply issue to the FDA.

fda app screenshot
A screenshot of the app for iPhone

Shortages: decreasing

The app is part of the FDA’s Strategic Plan for Preventing and Mitigating Drug Shortages​.

The FDA said drug shortages can be dangerous when they lead doctors to prescribe alternatives which are less effective or come with higher risks.

Since 2012’s Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act (FDASIA), the FDA has established a task force on drug shortages.

The Agency says although it cannot directly intervene in the business and economic factors that contribute to drug shortages, “FDA is well positioned to play a significant role as manufacturers work to restore lost production of life-saving medications.

FDA can be most effective when there is time to plan; thus, it is critical that manufacturers notify FDA as soon as possible when manufacturing disruptions are expected.

Early notification about possible shortages, as requested in the President’s Executive Order 13588 and then codified into law by Congress, has enabled FDA to work with manufacturers to restore production of many lifesaving therapies.​”

Notifications to the FDA have increased six-fold since the Executive Order. The organisation claims the number of medicine shortages is decreasing, and that it prevented more than 280 supply problems in 2012.

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