Multiple St.Louis-area hospitals monitoring national IV bag shortage

Blumenthal, Murphy Fight For Puerto Rico

Florida Power & Light sent another wave of workers to Puerto Rico to help restore power to the island, four months after the power was knocked out by Hurricane Maria. On Jan. 4, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb reported that power has been restored to Baxter, the medical supply facility in Puerto Rico, and things are improving.

"You lose millions of bags a week in supply to the United States, and that creates a shortage everywhere", said Mike Auger, pharmacy director at Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital in St. Johnsbury.

"It may sound scary to the public but as technicians we know how (much saline) we truly need".

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said last week it believes shortages will start to ease over the next few weeks, but stressed "the production situation in Puerto Rico remains fragile". A recent news report estimated that half the island still has no power, more than 100 days after the storm.

"We've been able to substitute giving medicines through a syringe instead of through an IV bag", Dr. Paul Biddinger said. That industry has a "significant presence" in Puerto Rico, and the "disruption ... has had ramifications for patients both on the island and throughout the USA", the federal Food and Drug Administration said in a November 17 announcement. Another product, empty IV bags which used to make a hospital's own sterile preparation that can be used to infuse into patient over a period of hours, also disappeared.

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The manufacturing shortage impacts essential pharmaceutical products used in hospitals and health care environments on a daily basis.

Puerto Rico is a hub for medical pharmaceuticals - the island produces $40 billion in pharmaceuticals for the US per year. "There's been some progress, but I have to tell you, as I boarded that plane to come home, I was furious and heartbroken for the people of Puerto Rico".

"Maria came through on September 20, a Category 5, and devastated the entire island", she said. Ohio Health System will evaluate its new practices to see which are cost effective and should be kept, said pharmacy services heard Curt Passafume Jr.

They say they continue to monitor the shortage closely.

Governor Charlie Baker says he is also working to give districts additional state funding, if needed.

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