Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has posed unprecedented challenges for nations worldwide, among which medication shortages can cause a devastatingly negative impact on global health. Using Taiwan as an example, this report describes the sources of potential medication shortages, discusses the preparedness and contingency strategies to address medication shortages, and outlines the evidence-based recommendations on ensuring a stable medication supply and improving the quality and security of medicines. Many drug shortages have focused on shortfalls of overseas manufacturing, but the effect of the COVID-19 crisis on misallocation of medications within the nation's internal supply chains is also a great concern. A wide range of stakeholders are involved in pharmaceutical supply chains, including government regulators, health care insurers, pharmaceutical companies, frontline physicians and pharmacists, patients and families, professional and patient associations or unions, and even individuals who acquire medications from abroad. Collaborative inputs and efforts from all these interdependent stakeholders are critical for establishing transparent preparedness and contingency plans to address drug shortages affected by disruptions of overseas manufacturing or stockouts in pharmacies owing to medication misallocation. Strategies have been documented and recommended in Taiwan and the United States to mitigate drug shortages and ensure the long-term quality and security of medicines. Barriers to accessing medicines are nothing new, but the COVID-19 pandemic poses urgent and even novel challenges to the stability and integrity of medication supply, which urges for a need to reconsider and reinforce effective management strategies for pharmaceuticals. Active management, transparent information, and timely communications are essential to ensure a stable supply of key therapeutic medications, especially during a pandemic.
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