Ethical framework for resource allocation during a drug supply shortage

Healthc Q. 2012;15(3):26-35. doi: 10.12927/hcq.2013.23040.


Drug supply shortages are common in health systems due to manufacturing and other delays. Frequently, shortages are successfully addressed through conservation and redistribution efforts, with limited impact on patient care. However, when Sandoz Canada Inc. announced in February 2012 that it was reducing production of a number of generic injectable drugs at its Quebec facility, the scope and magnitude of the drug supply shortage were unprecedented in Canada. The potential for an extreme scarcity of some drugs raised ethical concerns about patient care, including the need to limit access to some health services. In this article, the authors describe the development and implementation of an ethical framework to promote equitable access to drugs and healthcare services in the context of a drug supply shortage within and across health systems.

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Health Care Rationing / ethics*
  • Health Care Rationing / organization & administration*
  • Health Plan Implementation
  • Humans
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / supply & distribution*
  • Software Design


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations