The COVID-19 crisis has caused a number of holes to be exposed in the supply chain for medical care as people are flooding hospitals and society is temporarily forced to close. One of these has been the shortage of ventilators, which have caused social as well as political panic and reactionary behavior. However, another crisis is brewing, which is that while people are struggling to get ventilators, they are as only as effective as the drugs that are fed into them, and now according to AP News there appears to be a rapidly emerging shortage in the drug supply line.
As hospitals scour the country for scarce ventilators to treat critically ill patients stricken by the new coronavirus, pharmacists are beginning to sound an alarm that could become just as urgent: Drugs that go hand in hand with ventilators are running low even as demand is surging.
Michael Ganio, of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, said demand for the drugs at greater New York hospitals has spiked as much as 600% over the last month, even though hospitals have stopped using them for elective surgery.
“These ventilators will be rendered useless without an adequate supply of the medications,” Society CEO Paul Abramowitz said in an April 1 letter to Vice President Mike Pence, who is leading President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force.
Nationwide, demand for the drugs surged 73% in March, according Dan Kistner, a pharmaceuticals expert at Vizient, Inc., which negotiates drug prices for hospitals throughout the country. Supplies, according to Vizient data, have not kept pace.
“Trying to run the ventilators without these drugs will be like trying to operate a fleet of cars without gasoline,” Kistner said. (source)