COVID-19 exposes weak points in the medicine supply chain

Four in five physicians in new poll say they faced potential medicine shortages during the pandemic

The author(s)

  • Mallory Newall Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Neil Lloyd Senior Research Analyst, Public Affairs
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Washington, DC, February 2, 2022 —According to physicians in an Ipsos poll, conducted on behalf of The United States Pharmacopeial Convention (USP), drug shortages have become a bigger issue in recent years, with many citing an overreliance on foreign countries as the top contributor.

Detailed Findings

1. Healthcare professionals in this study do not think the medicine supply chain is in good health, with over half (53%) saying that if the medicine supply chain was a patient, it would be in need of significant urgent care.

2. They also believe the COVID-19 pandemic has shown the weak points in the medicine supply chain.

  • 95% agree – with 57% strongly agreeing – that the pandemic has shown the medicine supply chain’s vulnerabilities.
  • Only 31% are confident that the medicine supply chain is resilient enough to withstand the next pandemic.

3. Most say they’ve experienced medicine shortages more frequently in recent years.

  • 83% agree that in recent years drug shortages have become a bigger problem, with about a third (36%) strongly agreeing.
  • Four in five (80%) say during the pandemic their facility faced a potential medicine shortage at least sometimes (23% often vs. 57% sometimes).

4. Healthcare professionals in the study believe the U.S. it too dependent on other countries for medicine.

  • 90% think the U.S. needs to produce more medicines domestically, with 55% strongly agreeing with this.
  • Significant reliance on other countries for medicines (62%) is cited as the top contributor to possible medicine shortages in the U.S.

5. Misinformation makes it more difficult for healthcare professionals in this study to do their jobs.

  • 94% agree that misinformation on the internet and in the news makes it more difficult to treat their patients, with 66% strongly agreeing.
  • Nearly all (96%) say misinformation on social media and in the news media is a serious threat to their patients, with 75% saying it’s a very serious threat.

About the Study

These are the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of The United States Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) between September 14-30, 2021. For this survey, a sample of 500 healthcare professionals age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii who work at or are affiliated with a hospital system, spend some portion of their time working in a hospital setting, and are board certified was interviewed online in English.

The sample was randomly drawn from online panel sources that specialize in recruiting physicians and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing a sample. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on physician type (primary care physician vs. specialists or surgeons). To qualify, physicians must be board certified and affiliated with a hospital system or spend a portion of their time working in a hospital. No posthoc demographic weights were applied to the sample.

Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online non-probability polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 5.0 percentage points for all respondents. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=500, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=+/-6.5 percentage points).

About Ipsos

Ipsos is the world’s third largest Insights and Analytics company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people.

Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. We serve more than 5000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions.

Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1st, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 index and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD).

ISIN code FR0000073298, Reuters ISOS.PA, Bloomberg IPS:FP


    The author(s)

    • Mallory Newall Vice President, US, Public Affairs
    • Neil Lloyd Senior Research Analyst, Public Affairs