Managing Inventory and Dealing with Industry Wide Drug Shortages

0 Comments Posted by pitts in news on Friday, February 17th, 2012.

The past year has been especially trying when it comes to ordering and stocking commonly used veterinary medications.  Our full-time inventory manager, Matt, works hard every day to keep our hospital stocked with the drugs and medications that are necessary for us to provide our clients and patients with proper treatment.

Matt has many important tasks to complete each day.  He makes sure that all areas of the hospital are fully stocked with supplies for the day, counts inventory for accuracy and reordering purposes, speaks with our vendors both in person and via phone to get the latest information on pricing, new items, or any changes that may affect us.  When shipments arrive, he is in charge of receiving the product, tracking outdates, tagging items, and entering all information into the computer.  Matt also helps answer the phone, fill in at the front desk, and prepares information for staff meetings. He is a busy guy!

When it comes to ordering drugs and medications, our focus always relates back to the patient/client.  We want to be fully stocked at all times to minimize delays in treatment and to provide the best care possible.  We want to purchase inventory items at the best price available in order to keep our prices reasonable for the client.  We want to offer options for preventive medication and prescription diets so that we are able to accommodate individual patient/client needs.

Over the past year we have encountered many obstacles when it comes to ordering drugs and medications.  In some cases we have seen prices double or triple!  Examples would be BNP (a triple antibiotic eye ointment) and metronidazole (used to treat G.I. upset).  In these cases we have searched out cheaper, but comparable alternatives or we have ordered in bulk at the low price, stocking up before the price increase.  We have seen many items become unavailable due to manufacturing issues – either difficulties with raw material or companies just discontinuing the product altogether.   The Iams company and Novartis both encountered shutdowns due to errors or safety reasons that put delays in us receiving their product.  Some companies have put certain items on allocation, meaning we can only order them for specific cases. One example of this is Immiticide which is used in treating heartworm disease.  We have to call for each specific case – we can no longer keep this drug on hand.

We have seen a few of our favorite drugs become completely unavailable. In this case we try to find a similar replacement or a compounding pharmacy that is able to make the drug for us.  Terry and Carol Pitts do not make these decisions lightly.  Whenever we have to make a switch, they carefully do their research to find a safe and effective alternative.  Right now we are experiencing changes with PPA(phenylpropalalamine) which is used to treat urinary incontinence.  The tablet form is no longer available, but we are able to get the chewable form – for now.

Ordering, receiving, and counting inventory for Pitts Veterinary Hospital is a full time job.  Careful consideration is taken to make sure that we are stocked with the appropriate amount of supplies (not too much or too little) and that we carry the safest, most effective options available.  We do our best to monitor pricing so that our products remain affordable for the pet owner.  If you ever have a question regarding our inventory or an item that you would like us to special order for your pet, Matt is your guy!

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