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Drug Shortages: How Can We Run Out of Salt Water?


It is always a great learning moment when I host Dr. Mark Donaldson to tell me more about a given topic. This time, I invited him to speak about drug shortages, a phenomenon that oftentimes puts the patient at risk and leaves the oral health provider stranded. His article “Drug Shortages How do we run out of salt water?” provided a clear picture of how drugs can quickly disappear off the pharmacy shelves and what oral health and health care providers in general can do to mitigate this problem.

Dr. Mark Donaldson is Senior Executive Director at Vizient, a national health care network of not-for-profit hospitals; University HealthSystem Consortium, an alliance of the nation’s leading academic medical centers; and Novation, the health care contracting company they jointly owned. Dr. Donaldson is also clinical professor in the Skaggs School of Pharmacy at the University of Montana.

I hope you enjoy the conversation and find it useful. We welcome your comments, feedback, suggestions, and questions at oasisdiscussions@cda-adc.ca

Until next time!

Chiraz Guessaier, CDA Oasis Manager


  • Drug shortages can adversely affect drug therapy, delay or compromise medical and dental procedures, and result in medication errors… While proactive collaboration between the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the pharmaceutical industry can serve to identify low-profit drugs and evaluate measures to ensure continued production, the reasons for drug shortages may be more diverse.
  • Drug shortages are the result of many factors, including unavailability of raw materials and natural disasters; manufacturer decisions, acquisitions, and mergers; regulatory issues and noncompliance with current good manufacturing practices; and unexpected demand.
  • As a multi-factorial problem, drug shortages must be addressed with a multi-pronged approach. One strategy that has been employed as a partnership between so-called Big Pharma and the FDA has been to reexamine existing expiration dates for certain medications in short supply. 
  • Oral healthcare practitioners should avoid hoarding a stockpile of drugs to mitigate any potential shortages since this strategy is expensive, the drugs may expire before they can be used, and hoarding behavior can precipitate an even more acute shortage. 

Read/download the transcript of the conversation (PDF)

Oasis Moment – Take Away Message (3.18″)

Full Interview (19.57″)



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