Technical Consultation on Preventing and Managing Global Stock Outs of Medicines. Geneva, Switzerland, 8–9 December 2015
(2016; 22 pages)


Shortages and stock outs of essential medicines have been increasing in recent years. The problem has become a global problem, with documented supply failures of antibiotics, anaesthetics, chemotherapy medicines and many others. It has been described in high-, middle- and low-income countries and is increasingly related to shortages at the manufacturing level, versus well-documented supply chain and financing challenges.

There are limited data to quantify the full extent of the burden of medicines stock outs, but as stock outs increase, country health systems incur extra costs in managing them as well as the problems that arise in patient care. Clinical outcomes for patients may be adversely affected as a result of non-treatment, under-treatment and possible medication error from attempts to substitute missing medicines.

The meeting recognized that shortages and stock outs of medicines and technologies are of concern to all countries and that there is a need for coordinated and global action on approaches to managing them. One single approach or action is unlikely to be effective – it was recognized that an approach across the health system (end-to-end) is needed.

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