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Hospitals in NH feeling effects of IV solution shortage in wake of Hurricane Maria


Union Leader Correspondent

November 27. 2017 5:53PM
Officials at hospitals in New Hampshire say they are doing whatever they can to conserve IV solution bags. The hurricane in Puerto Rico has caused a national shortage. KIMBERLEY HAAS/Union Leader Correspondent 

H ospitals in New Hampshire are trying to conserve IV saline solution as the nation continues to feel the effects of a shortage caused by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

Lauren Collins Cline, a spokeswoman at Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, said that even though there are other companies that supply IV solution bags, Baxter International in Puerto Rico is a dominant force in the market.

“Regardless of how you bring in your product, everybody’s affected,” Collins Cline said.

IV solutions are used to administer drugs intravenously in hospitals and other medical settings.

Ann Williams, director of pharmacy services at Portsmouth Regional Hospital, said the hospital’s parent company, HCA Healthcare, has been told the shortage will continue through the first quarter of 2018.

Pharmacists and doctors are working together to make sure patients who need the bags the most get them, Williams said.

“We do a lot of brainstorming on getting through this and getting products for our patients,” Williams said.

HCA Healthcare also owns Parkland Medical Center in Derry.

All the hospitals contacted by the Union Leader said staff members are directed to use an oral medication or injection instead of an IV when possible.

Dawn Fernald, a spokesman for Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover, said head of pharmacy Ricky Meinking issued a memo on the topic on Nov. 9. Since then, employees have been told not to open an IV solution bag unless they are sure it will be used.

Molly Mortimer, director of pharmacy services at Elliot Hospital in Manchester, said at times drug suppliers use an allocation system, so doctors at her facility have experience dealing with a decreased supply.

“It is challenging from the perspective that we don’t know how long the supply will last us and when the next delivery is coming,” Mortimer said.

Earlier this month, U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials released a statement saying they have not objected to temporary imports from Baxter’s production facilities in Ireland, Australia, Mexico, Canada and from B. Braun in Germany.

In addition to the temporary imports, the FDA is working to expedite drug applications to help relieve the shortages. The agency recently approved Fresenius Kabi and Laboratorios Grifols saline products.

In the statement, FDA officials encouraged firms with FDA-approved saline products to add capacity to meet increased demand; there have been limited supplies of IV fluids since 2014.

The FDA is searching for additional manufacturers to help prevent future shortages, according to the statement.

Public Safety Health Manchester Dover Portsmouth

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