PRESS RELEASEJuly 23, 2020

What can COVID-19 teach us about drug shortages during a global emergency?

  • July 23, 2020

TORONTO, July 23, 2020 — During a global pandemic, countries world-wide run the risk of drug shortages due to supply chain disruption. The current COVID-19 pandemic has brought attention to this issue, as many regions struggle to adapt to evolving logistical changes resulting from this global emergency.

To address this developing concern, Katie J. Suda, Pharm.D., M.S., professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine’s Division of General Internal Medicine, and Mina Tadrous, Pharm.D., M.S., Ph.D., assistant professor of Pharmacy at the University of Toronto and scientist at Women’s College Hospital, will be leading an international collaboration with an award from the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science, to determine the effect of COVID-19 on drug supply chain and shortages, as well as the effectiveness of country-level drug shortage policy.

“The frequency, persistence and duration of drug shortages has increased dramatically over the last decade, leading to supply disruptions of thousands of drugs every year, and outcomes like worsening illness, increased hospitalization and premature death for patients” said Dr. Suda. “Although the problem of drug shortages is well known, we don’t yet know the impact of drug shortages during a global emergency.” 

“It is clear that the 2019 Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has significantly impacted the drug supply chain,” said Dr. Suda. “Assessing drug shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic with real-time data from more than 70 countries will inform health policy locally and globally.”

Several countries around the world, including the U.S. and Canada, have successfully implemented various strategies to minimize drug shortages. Comparing the drug supply chain in different countries, each with their own policies, can reveal policy effectiveness and inform future policy-making decisions.

“The complexity and scope of this issue requires us to apply a comprehensive and collaborative approach that incorporates global insights and comparisons. Our team aims to develop an international consortium which will provide us with the opportunity to develop a common approach to drug shortages and global insights,” explained Tadrous. “Our research will help to inform risk mitigation strategies going forward with application for policy, formulary development, procedure and pricing.”

The team’s research will help inform the response to the over-arching drug shortage problem even after the COVID-19 pandemic. By making the findings publicly available through open-access journals, editorials, podcasts, and op-eds, their research will inform risk mitigation strategy to develop policy, formulary development, procurement, and drug pricing.



Jordan Benadiba
Women’s College Hospital

Taylor Andres
Communications Specialist, UPMC


A $21 billion health care provider and insurer, Pittsburgh-based UPMC is inventing new models of patient-centered, cost-effective, accountable care. The largest nongovernmental employer in Pennsylvania, UPMC integrates more than 90,000 employees, 40 hospitals, 700 doctors’ offices and outpatient sites, and a 3.8 million-member Insurance Services Division, the largest medical insurer in western Pennsylvania. In the most recent fiscal year, UPMC contributed $1.2 billion in benefits to its communities, including more care to the region’s most vulnerable citizens than any other health care institution, and paid $587 million in federal, state and local taxes. Working in close collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences, UPMC shares its clinical, managerial and technological skills worldwide through its innovation and commercialization arm, UPMC Enterprises, and through UPMC International. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside on its annual Honor Roll of America’s Best Hospitals and ranks UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on its Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals. For more information, go to

University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

The University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences include the schools of Medicine, Nursing, Dental Medicine, Pharmacy, Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and the Graduate School of Public Health. The schools serve as the academic partner to the UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center). Together, their combined mission is to train tomorrow’s health care specialists and biomedical scientists, engage in groundbreaking research that will advance understanding of the causes and treatments of disease and participate in the delivery of outstanding patient care. Since 1998, Pitt and its affiliated university faculty have ranked among the top 10 educational institutions in grant support from the National Institutes of Health. For additional information about the Schools of the Health Sciences, please visit

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For more than 100 years Women’s College Hospital (WCH) has been developing revolutionary advances in healthcare. Today, WCH is a world leader in the health of women and Canada’s leading, academic ambulatory hospital. A champion of health equity, WCH advocates for the health of all women from diverse cultures and backgrounds and ensures their needs are reflected in the care they receive. It focuses on delivering innovative solutions that address Canada’s most pressing issues related to population health, patient experience and system costs. The WCH Institute for Health System Solutions and Virtual Care (WIHV) is developing new, scalable models of care that deliver improved outcomes for patients and sustainable solutions for the health system as a whole. 

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