Only half of prescription orders for patients on ventilators being filled, shipped to hospitals

Prescription medications for COVID-19 patients on ventilators are being filled and shipped to hospitals just 53 percent of the time, down from 72 percent in March, according to data cited by STAT

The prescription fill and shipping rates for sedatives and anesthetics fell from 52 percent to 49 percent during the first week of April and from 50 percent to 43 percent for muscle relaxants. 

The demand for sedatives, anesthetics, painkillers and muscle relaxants have surged in the last few months as all of the drugs are needed to put patients on ventilators and manage their pain. Demand for the drugs rose 213 percent from January to April, according to STAT. 

Most of the drugs tracked by Vizient, a healthcare performance improvement company that provided the data to STAT, are listed by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists as experiencing shortages.  

The shortages could make it more difficult for healthcare providers to put patients on ventilators, which are sometimes used to treat severely ill COVID-19 patients. 

The Drug Enforcement Administration has permitted increased production and importation of some of the drugs, STAT reported, and increased production quotes by 15 percent for fentanyl, morphine, hydromorphone, codeine, ephedrine, and pseudoephedrine. 

Read the full article here.

[Editor's Note: This article was updated at 11:06 a.m. CDT April 16 to clarify that the data reflects wholesaler orders to hospitals are being unfilled.]

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