News & Info

Shortages in 3 Kinds

Apr 16, 2023 | BP Updates, The Buyer Relationship

We all hear about ‘shortages’. And we all know intuitively what a shortage is: there’s not enough supply of a particular drug out there to meet the industry’s demand. But the reason behind the shortage can effect both how an end-user facility (hospital, long term care facility, private practice, and so on) adjusts and how a supplier meets that critical need.

I’m going to take a moment and describe three separate kinds of shortages and how we, as a secondary wholesaler, respond for our buyers. Importantly these three kinds of shortages can all happen at the same time: just because we’re in a shortage #1 doesn’t stop a shortage #2 occurring as well.

Shortage 1: Elevated Demand

This is the kind of shortage with which BP and our buyers have the most experience. Something happens, flu season, a breakout of pneumonia, a communicable disease that spreads quickly; whatever the case, there are quickly far more patients than usual who need access to important pharmaceuticals to continue their care and ensure high quality treatment.

Since these shortages are the most common and the one that we deal with the most, we rely on our oldest network partners to find and supply drugs in elevated demand. Some shortages are more difficult than others but no matter what we do our very best for our buyers.

Shortage 2: Weather, Precursors and Trade

Did you know most American pharmaceuticals are produced in Puerto Rico? That most of the building blocks of those drugs are produced in India?

It’s true: the pharmaceutical industry, like all others, is a global industry now. And like all global industries a serious even on the other side of the globe can effect supply of finished products for end-users: a typhoon that hits the coast of India or a hurricane that comes aground near San Juan can upend supply of drugs and supplies that are dependably in abundance.

For us, these shortages are about tenacity and being stubborn for our buyers. We have a large network of suppliers we regularly work with, but in these cases that might not be enough. We go beyond our largest suppliers and use connections that we’ve built over the past two decades in order to mitigate these shortages.

Sometimes it takes 1 phone call, sometimes it takes 50. As long as we’re able to help the buyer, we’re fine with either.

Shortage 3: Always in short supply, brittle

Among the most challenging of shortages for us is when a niche drug — a drug prescribed in relatively small numbers and used in very specific circumstances — sees an elevation in demand. Due to normal rules of supply and demand these drugs are generally very expensive and kept in short supply by our network.

In situations like these we turn over every stone in our network of suppliers and, if necessary, reach out to the buyers we have the best relationship with. Often we can find a lead from a friendly contact and move on it, people are sympathetic to shortages like this and understand how critical filling a need can be.



We’d love to hear about your experiences with your secondary supplier and how they meet your needs through different shortages.

Drop us a line and let’s talk!