IV drug shortage seen nationally, locally

IV drug shortage continues
Updated: Apr. 17, 2018 at 8:13 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - What does a hurricane in the Caribbean have to do with a nationwide IV drug shortage? It turns out - plenty.

Visit just about any emergency room in this country and we're told you're likely to hear all about the shortage of IV drugs.

It's been a big problem ever since September 20, 2017, when Hurricane Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico.

It turns out, the island is home to more than 90 pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities, many of which are still struggling to get up and running again seven months later.

"Everybody's constantly looking for a new supplier to provide something that we all use," explained Dr. Kevin Sittig, University Health Shreveport Chief Medical Officer.

Inside the hospital pharmacy, director Jason Lafitte told us how the shortage has made their job that much tougher to keep a stock of IV drugs ready for use at any time.

"We make a lot of phone calls to a lot of the area, pharmaceutical reps, call several drug manufacturers and alternative resources," said Lafitte.

Lafitte described to us that they receive the very same drugs as before the shortage began. But, he added that sometimes they may not be mixed properly yet.

Or, the medication is in different dosages than before, which then need to be adjusted before giving to patients.

Dr. Sitting also told KSLA News 12 they take great pride in the fact that a large majority of patients have not heard anything about the IV drug shortage.

"There's no impact to patient care currently at University Health in the clinics or the hospitals," concluded Sittig.

University Health staff told us they also have a backup or contingency plans in case a certain drug is not available.

Lafitte recalled how they've had a few close calls, "Only to find that that same day, later in the afternoon, we got the supply that we were waiting for. So, it is literally second to second."

All this begs the question: Just how long can an IV drug shortage go on before E-R's begin to run out of options and run out of luck?

So far, there's been no answer to that question. So, they plan to keep making backup plans in the meantime.

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