Hospira recall exacerbates ongoing baking soda shortage: 4 things to know

Hospira recalled 42 lots of sodium bicarbonate solution last week over potential issues with their sterility, worsening an ongoing critical shortage of the crucial drug.

Here are four things to know.

  1. Sodium bicarbonate solution — or baking soda — is used for open heart surgery, some forms of chemotherapy and as a treatment when a patient's blood is too acidic. The drug, often stashed on emergency crash carts, also serves as an antidote to some poisons and as a treatment for patients whose organs are failing.

  1. The shortage started in February after Pfizer — Hospira's parent company — encountered manufacturing issues and distribution delays. Hospitals across the country have postponed surgeries and treatments due to low sodium bicarbonate supplies.

  1. The Food and Drug Administration on Friday said it is "concerned" about how Hospira's recall will affect ongoing sodium bicarbonate shortages. The agency said it "is working closely with Pfizer to resolve [the shortages] by addressing the underlying causes," according to a Friday update.

  1. The FDA is helping Pfizer and Hospira find alternative manufacturers to produce the drug. The agency also extended the use dates for certain lots of sodium bicarbonate syringes so clinicians can continue to use the supplies during the shortage, according to the update.

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