Amidst news reports of increasing prescription drug shortages — worsened by current national supply chain issues — military officials say they’ve been able to work around them.
“We do not see any trends on medication prescription shortages other than those listed on the [American Society of Health System Pharmacists] and [Food and Drug Administration] websites,” said Michelle McCaskill, spokeswoman for the Defense Logistics Agency, when asked if current supply chain issues are affecting military treatment facilities.
“For the most part, we’re able to assist our military health system partners with finding available alternatives for procurement.”
As of Friday, there were 193 drug shortages listed on the ASHP website; and 117 drug shortages listed on the FDA website.
“We are not experiencing anything out of the ordinary,” said Peter Graves, spokesman for the Military Health System, which includes military treatment facilities. Military beneficiaries can get covered generic and brand-name prescription drugs at no cost at MTFs.
Military beneficiaries also get their prescriptions filled at Tricare retail network pharmacies, and through the Tricare Pharmacy Home Delivery, operated by Express Scripts.
Supply chain issues have plagued many companies and consumers nationwide, due to such COVID-related problems as product shortages and labor shortages, port congestion and other logistics problems. Commissary and exchange stocks have also been affected, as well as military families’ household goods shipments.
For years, even before COVID, the American Medical Association has been warning of national drug shortages. In November 2020, the AMA warned that an uptick of national drug shortages, exacerbated by the pandemic, further ”threaten patient care and safety.”
The AMA’s House of Delegates adopted policy last November underscoring drug shortages as an “urgent public health crisis.”
The AMA cited the top five classes of drugs in short supply at the time as being central nervous system medications, antimicrobials, cardiovascular medications, and ophthalmic and chemotherapy agents.
Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.