Monday, April 13, 2020

Spikes in demand from coronavirus patients are creating shortages of asthma drugs and sedatives for ventilator patients

With the surge in patients, the FDA is racing to respond but has big blind spots in the global supply chain.

A paramedic wheels a patient into an emergency arrival area at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens. (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)

By Christopher Rowland and Joanna Slater

Hospitals in regions experiencing a surge of coronavirus patients are struggling to maintain supplies of antibiotics, antivirals and sedatives required for patients on ventilators, and other drugs produced in countries where the pandemic has halted or curbed manufacturing.

Although overlooked by a public focused on shortages of ventilators and personal protective equipment, hospitals are increasingly concerned about future shortages of lifesaving drugs as authorities in India and other countries producing the drugs try to guarantee supplies for their own people.

New York, the state with the highest number of infections and deaths in the United States, has experienced spikes in demand for fentanyl and other sedatives needed by patients experiencing respiratory failure who are placed on ventilators for up to two weeks. The Food and Drug Administration placed another sedative called midazolam on an official drug shortage list last month.  Read more >>