Drugs needed to put patients on ventilators in short supply

Drugs that are needed to keep patients on ventilators are facing shortages across the country as demand spikes, Stat reported. 

Drugs such as sedatives, anesthetics, painkillers and muscle relaxants are needed to manage pain and comfort levels to keep patients on ventilators. 

In March, there was a 52 percent increase in demand for half a dozen different sedatives and anesthetics, according to Stat. The fill rate for those drugs dropped from 100 percent at the beginning of the month to 63 percent as of March 24. 

Demand for three painkillers — hydromorphone, fentanyl and morphine — rose 67 percent in March and the fill rate fell from 82 percent to 73 percent. 

Demand for neuromuscular blockers rose 39 percent while the fill rate dropped to 70 percent, Stat reported. 

Several factors contribute to possible shortages. Pfizer reported manufacturing delays and Teva Pharmaceuticals stopped making one of the anesthetic drugs in demand last year. 

Drugmakers also may not be increasing production in response to the increased demand, Erin Fox, PharmD, who tracks drug shortages for University of Utah Health, told Stat.

"Everyone has been focused on possible shortages due to China halting production or India halting imports, but nobody is talking about shortages due to a huge spike in demand," she said. 

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