Antibacterial drug shortages from 2001 to 2013: implications for clinical practice

Clin Infect Dis. 2015 Jun 15;60(12):1737-42. doi: 10.1093/cid/civ201. Epub 2015 Apr 22.


Background: Previous studies have described drug shortages; however, there has been no comprehensive evaluation focusing on US antibacterial shortages.

Methods: Drug shortage data from the University of Utah Drug Information Service database were analyzed, with a focus on antibacterial agents from 2001 to 2013. We used descriptive statistics to describe trends in drug shortages, analyze drug classes commonly affected, and investigate whether drugs experienced multiple periods of shortages.

Results: One hundred forty-eight antibacterial drugs were on shortage over the 13-year study period, with 26 drugs still active on shortage as of December 2013. The median number of new shortages per year was 10 (interquartile range [IQR], 7). The number of drugs on shortage increased at a rate of 0.35 additional drugs every month (95% confidence interval, .22-.49) from July 2007 to December 2013 (P < .001). The median shortage duration was 188 days (IQR, 366.5). Twenty-two percent of drugs experienced multiple shortage periods.

Conclusions: There were a substantial number of drug shortages from 2001 to 2013, with a dramatic rise in shortages since 2007. Shortages of agents used to treat multidrug-resistant infections are of concern due to continued transmission and limited treatment options.

Keywords: National Drug Codes (NDC); University of Utah Drug Information Service (UUDIS); drug shortages.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / supply & distribution*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Databases, Pharmaceutical*
  • Humans
  • Public Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents