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  • BI report_Short of drugs_22.06.21

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A review of scientific and grey literature on medicine shortages and the need for a research agenda in Operations and Supply Chain Management

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Abstract

High-income countries are facing a significant and worsening drug shortage problem. This position paper argues that operations and supply chain management (OSCM) could (and perhaps should) be used more widely to help address this issue: 1) the problem has significant societal impacts, 2) it poses complex questions for stakeholders and finding answers is challenging due to the
complex and dynamic nature of drug supply chains, 3) OSCM scholars are well positioned to provide answers, and 4) the problem introduces fundamentally new research directions for OSCM. To substantiate this, we carried out a review of key stakeholder reports from six European countries and a systematic review of academic literature. These show that there is no real agreement among stakeholders about what causes the shortages and that there are few academic studies that examine this. We also show that stakeholders have suggested many different government measures – ranging from ‘reshoring production’ to revising procurement policies and increasing stock levels – but that there is little research that provides evidence on their comparative cost-effectiveness. Based on our findings, we discuss three promising research directions to which our discipline could contribute.