GE urged to allocate scarce imaging dye to hospitals based on need

A national shortage of contrast media is hindering hospital and health systems' ability to care for patients and what's available should be distributed based on need, the American Hospital Association said in a May 16 letter to GE Healthcare.

"We believe hospitals that are designated stroke centers, major heart care centers and oncology centers, or those that simply have very active emergency departments should receive special consideration from GE as it chooses how to distribute the product it has available," AHA wrote.

The shortage of contrast media, an iodine solution injected into patients before CT scans and other imaging tests, stems from strict COVID-19 lockdowns in Shanghai, where GE Healthcare makes the ingredient. GE said the factory was operating at 25 percent capacity last week and plans to resume normal production levels by the end of June.

In its letter, the hospital association urged GE to clarify how hospital allocations of the contrast medium, Omnipaque, will be managed and when hospitals can expect those allotments to increase as production ramps up.

Hospitals will need to conserve current contrast media supplies as GE gradually increases manufacturing capacity. The association said the company should partner with the FDA to issue national guidance on how to extend these supplies. The association also asked how GE plans to meet potential increased demand for contrast media as hospitals resume delayed services after production returns to full capacity. 

View the full letter here.

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