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Short of drugs? Call upon operations and supply chain management

Harwin de Vries (Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands)
Marianne Jahre (Accounting and Operations Management, BI Norwegian Business School, Oslo, Norway)
Kostas Selviaridis (Management Science, Lancaster University Management School, Bailrigg, UK)
Kim E. van Oorschot (Leadership and Organisational Behaviour, BI Norwegian Business School, Oslo, Norway)
Luk N. Van Wassenhove (Technology and Operations Management Area, INSEAD, Fontainebleau, France)

International Journal of Operations & Production Management

ISSN: 0144-3577

Article publication date: 20 July 2021

Issue publication date: 22 October 2021




This “impact pathways” paper argues that operations and supply chain management (OSCM) could help address the worsening drug shortage problem in high-income countries. This significant societal problem poses difficult challenges to stakeholders given the complex and dynamic nature of drug supply chains. OSCM scholars are well positioned to provide answers, introducing new research directions for OSCM in the process.


To substantiate this, the authors carried out a review of stakeholder reports from six European countries and the academic literature.


There is little academic research and no fundamental agreement among stakeholders about causes of shortages. Stakeholders have suggested many government measures, but little evidence exists on their comparative cost-effectiveness.


The authors discuss three pathways of impactful research on drug shortages to which OSCM could contribute: (1) Developing an evidence-based system view of drug shortages; (2) Studying the comparative cost-effectiveness of key government interventions; (3) Bringing supply chain risk management into the government and economics perspectives and vice versa. Our study provides a baseline for future COVID-19-related research on this topic.



This research was funded by Helsevel; The Research Council of Norway (RCN). See here for more information on this research project.


de Vries, H., Jahre, M., Selviaridis, K., van Oorschot, K.E. and Van Wassenhove, L.N. (2021), "Short of drugs? Call upon operations and supply chain management", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 41 No. 10, pp. 1569-1578.



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