BACKGROUND: Shortages of chronic medications are an increasingly common problem, yet little is known about their impact on drug utilization and clinical outcomes. We evaluated the population-level impact of metoprolol extended release shortage that occurred in the United States in 2009 to 2010.
METHODS AND RESULTS: We conducted a population-based, time series analysis of 38 914 patients (mean age, 60 years; 69% men) discharged after hospitalization for myocardial infarction (MI) between January 2006 and November 2012 in a large commercial insurance database. The shortage period was defined as February 2009 to June 2010. Data before September 2008 was defined as preshortage period and data after June 2010 as postshortage period. Outcomes were proportion of patients who filled any long- or short-acting β-blocker within 30 days of discharge, adherence to β-blockers within the first year of therapy among patients who initiated β-blockers, and rates of 1-year rehospitalization for MI or unstable angina. Post-MI statin utilization and adherence were evaluated as control outcomes. During the preshortage period, 70% of patient filled a β-blocker, mean monthly adherence was 76%, and the average monthly rate of rehospitalization was 6.5 events per 100 person-years, as compared with β-blocker use of 62%, average adherence of 70%, and rehospitalization rate of 5.6 events per 100 person-years during the shortage. After accounting for the baseline (preshortage) trends, the shortage was associated with significant monthly reductions in postdischarge β-blocker use (-0.57% of patients [95% CI, -0.90 to -0.24] per month) and an immediate decrease in adherence (-4.58% days covered [95% CI, -6.12 to -3.04]). No negative impact on rates of rehospitalization, post-MI statin utilization, or statin adherence was observed. β-Blocker utilization began to increase after the resolution of the shortage.
CONCLUSIONS: The nationwide metoprolol extended release shortage in the United States was associated with fewer patients receiving any long- or short-acting β-blocker post-MI and lower adherence to β-blocker therapy for those who did receive it, but did not appear to appreciably affect clinical outcomes at the population level.