Hospitals stocking up on drugs for 2nd COVID-19 wave

About 90 percent of hospitals and health systems in the U.S. are building safety stocks of critical drugs in preparation for a potential second wave of COVID-19, The Wall Street Journal reported. 

Hospitals' purchases of sedatives and analgesics increased nearly fourfold in April compared to January, according to data from Vizient cited by the Journal. Many ICU drugs, such as painkillers and sedatives, are still in short supply. 

Premier, one of the country's largest group purchasing organizations, told the Journal that more than half of hospitals are trying to build at least one month's supply of drugs, with sedatives like propofol and painkillers like fentanyl being the priority. Hospitals also are stocking up on drugs that recently have been shown to be effective for COVID-19 patients, including the steroid dexamethasone

RWJBarnabas Health in West Orange, N.J., is trying to secure a two-week supply of propofol and ventilator drugs at the level used during the height of its patient surge, or about 70 percent higher than normal times, Indu Lew, PharmD, the health system's chief pharmacy officer told the Journal

RWJBarnabas is building a cold-storage room for some ICU medications at its warehouse. 

University Hospitals in Cleveland is ordering more blood thinners such as heparin, Shawn Osborne, PharmD, vice president of supply chain and pharmacy services told the Journal. It also is ordering more dexamethasone, and Dr. Osborne said he wants a three-week supply of COVID-19 drugs, including three dozen ICU drugs and common medications like acetaminophen. 

New York City's Northwell Health is calculating the future need for dexamethasone and remdesivir by looking at how much they would have used if those drugs had been part of treatment protocols months ago, Onisis Stefas, PharmD, the health system's chief pharmacy officer, told the Journal.

Drugmakers have ramped up production of COVID-19 drugs, and wholesalers have expanded caps on how much hospitals are allowed to order, the Journal reported. 

Read the full article here.


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