Responding to disruptions in the pharmaceutical supply chain

Paul Morris, Edward Sweeney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction and aims: Drug shortages and supply chain disruptions can affect healthcare provision. This study sought to determine the response actions after a supply chain disruption occurs, which previous research has largely ignored.

Methods: The study used a three-phase, mixed-methods approach. This included an online survey of NHS trust and acute care hospitals in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland (n=125), semi-structured interviews with the individuals responsible for managing shortages within the hospitals that responded to the survey (n=18), and three targeted focus groups (n=21). The data were analysed and tested against three major constructs: supply chain disruption orientation, supply chain disruption performance and organisational response.

Results: In total, 55.2% of responding acute hospitals based in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland did not have ≥76% of medicine lines (for a preselected list of medicines: lidocaine injection; aciclovir infusion solution and powder; glycopyrronium bromide injection; ketamine injection; lorazepam injection) fulfilled within eight weeks of a disruption in the supply chain. The patterns of strategic responses to supply chain disruptions varied depending on the length of time since the disruption, and this can impact performance.

Discussion and conclusion: This study gives insights into the impact of supply chain disruption response behaviour and supply chain performance on shortage management. A unique supply chain disruption shortage management roadmap is proposed, which could help guide practice and drug delivery by providing strategic insights on a system-wide view of drug delivery performance.

Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical Pharmacist
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 6 Feb 2019


  • Disruption response
  • Performance
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Roadmap
  • Shortages
  • Supply chain disruptions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacy
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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