Medicines Management in Hospitals: A Supply Chain Perspective
Inefficient and irrational use of medicines is a widespread problem at all levels of health care. Lack of discretely documented policies and procedures in respect of medicines management in hospitals is unnecessarily straining the meagre resources resulting into poor inflow of benefits to the patients. Per capita wastage from inefficient and irrational use of medicines tends to be greatest in hospitals. Many of these sources of wastage could be reduced if some basic principles of medicine management and use are followed and a comprehensive medicines management policy framework is developed. An efficient and robust medicines management in hospitals ensures rational selection, quantification, procurement, storage, distribution, use and thereby availability of the right drugs in the right quantities, at reasonable prices, and at recognized standards of quality throughout the year without any stock-out periods in between. Effective medicines management is a collaborative process involving many stakeholders that is required for providing the health care system with a road map for continuous improvement in pharmaceutical supply chain including expense containment with specific goals and outcome measures of success. Existing medicines management and supply chain systems within hospitals have several gaps and shortcomings particularly lack of resources and well documented policy framework. Urgent steps are required to assess, evaluate, and monitor the functioning of supply chain system for bridging up the gaps and rectification of shortcomings. Priority needs to be accorded towards engaging well-qualified manpower, suitably trained in medicines management across the different levels of care.