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Preventing Drug Shortages During the Pandemic with Integrated, Secure Refrigerated Storage

Posted on Nov 05, 2020 by Donna Holpuch

Preventing Drug Shortages During the Pandemic with Integrated, Secure Refrigerated Storage

The American Society of Health System Pharmacists (ASHP) continues to develop and restructure resources to assist pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and other healthcare professionals with the COVID-19 pandemic response. ASHP is continually working to break down barriers for those who are working on the front line of the pandemic. The latest update to their pandemic response was completed in September 2020.

Access to Resources

ASHP has provided open access to resources and tools on ashp.org for the pharmacy workforce and all healthcare professionals.   These tools include a COVID-19 microsite, as well as pandemic assessment tools and recommendations for minimizing exposure to COVID-19. Additionally, resources are provided for planning alternative care sites and field hospitals and prioritization of medications for mechanically ventilated patients.

ASHP is also providing free educational and training tools to assist in skill development for pharmacists. The ASHP Assessment of Evidence for COVID-19 Treatments evidence table has been made available and has been downloaded over 42,000 times. Other training tools include open access to ASHP’s Interactive Handbook on Injectable Drugs and AHFS Drug Information®.

Policy and Advocacy

ASHP has been engaged at both the state and federal level on critical issues for the pandemic response. These issues include drug shortage recommendations, sterile compounding, production of Schedule II controlled substances and many more.

Weekly and bi-weekly surveys collect information on issues pharmacists are dealing with including PPE, staffing and medication storage.

Inventory Management and Control

Now more than ever, inventory management and control are necessary to help prevent drug shortages. The pandemic has put stress on the drug inventory leading to conservation efforts and in some cases, drug shortages. Inventory management has become crucial and many supportive drugs being used for COVID-19 must be stored at refrigerated temperatures making management even more challenging.

Pharmacists are removing unnecessary medications from ADCs to fill them with COVID-19 related medications. In addition, many of the drugs used for COVID treatment are controlled substances and need to be safeguarded under high security. It is not ideal to short date these drugs in order to securely store them at ambient temperature inside an automated dispensing cabinet.

However, drugs can be stored under refrigeration without compromising the security of inventory control capabilities. Storing these drugs in a refrigerator allows you to stock COVID meds at point-of-care under refrigeration versus shortdating and using valuable ADC space. Many medical-grade refrigerators provide advanced access control and /or integration with leading ADC cabinets via a special lock.

Moreover, the industry-first BD Pyxis™ ES Refrigerator with Helmer Access Technology features precise temperature management and secure locking bins accessed only via the BD Pyxis™ MedStation™ ES. This enhances care by supporting medication safety, clinical workflow efficiency and regulatory compliance while helping to reduce waste and mitigate the risk of diversion of refrigerated medications; all of which are critical when managing COVID-19 drug inventory.


The current global pandemic reinforces the need for secure, refrigerated drug storage both in the hospital pharmacy and at point-of-care. Maintaining control and safety in decentralized drug storage is critical for efficient and effective patient care, especially in the midst of COVID-19. To learn more about integrated and secure, single line-item access for your high-risk and high-value refrigerated COVID-19 medications, head to the link below.

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Donna Holpuch

Written by Donna Holpuch

Bringing over 20 years of marketing experience in clinical, pharmacy and life sciences industries, Donna is the Sr. Manager of Marketing Communications at Helmer Scientific. She has successfully developed marketing strategies and tactics integrating inbound and outbound methods, digital, and marketing technology to drive commercial business results.

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