Hospitals face shortage of sterile water for injections: 5 things to know

Hospitals are experiencing a national shortage of sterile water for injection vials, according to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.

Here are five things to know about the shortage.

1. All commercially available sizes of sterile water, ranging from 5 milliliters to 100 milliliters, are on back order. Resupply dates span from late January to March.

2. Pfizer, a major manufacturer of sterile water for injections, cited manufacturing delays as the cause of low production levels. Another large manufacturer, Fresenius Kabi, cited increased demand as the reason for the shortage.

3. The shortage has boosted demand for larger sterile injection bags (250 milliliters to 3,000 milliliters), which have also experienced intermittent shortages.

4. Hospitals use sterile water for injection vials to reconstitute medications available in powder form. When supplies are low, clinicians must either administer a different medication or use a different sterile liquid to mix with the drug, "despite a lack of definite information about the effects on drug stability and compatibility," according to ASHP.

5. ASHP is working with the University of Utah Drug Information Service, the FDA and other stakeholders to learn more about the shortage and develop strategies to mitigate it.

Editor's note: This article was updated Feb. 5 to include additional information.

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