US may get more ventilators but lack medicine for COVID-19: NPR patients

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Vizient, a group buying organization that negotiates lower prices with drug manufacturers, has sent recommendations to the Food and Drug Administration, urging the agency to expand access to heavily used drugs for ventilated patients.

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Vizient, a group buying organization that negotiates lower prices with drug manufacturers, has sent recommendations to the Food and Drug Administration, urging the agency to expand access to heavily used drugs for ventilated patients.

jamesbenet / Getty Images

As hospitals across the country fill up with COVID-19 patients, medical personnel are sounding the alarm about shortages of essential drugs to care for these patients.

“We have seen an unprecedented increase in demand for pharmaceuticals,” said Daniel Kistner, who runs the pharmacy program for Vizient, a group buying organization that negotiates lower prices with drug manufacturers. “I have never seen anything like this before in the whole country. “

This week, Vizient released data showing dramatic spikes in demand for sedatives, painkillers, paralytics, and other drugs that are crucial for patients on respirators. According to Vizient’s study, the pace at which these commands are executed is far behind demand.

“We are not yet at a rate where there is simply no drug,” says Kistner, “but we are approaching it quickly. “

A complicating factor: “Injecting drugs take a long time,” says Kistner. “For example, there is a sterility period of 21 days for all injectable drugs. So it’s not something simple that you can do overnight. “

If you increase the production of ventilators but don’t get into producing the necessary drugs either, says Kistner, you have a problem: “We will build all these cars, but if we don’t have the gas, they can’t go nowhere. ”

This week, Vizient sent recommendations to the Food and Drug Administration, urging the agency to expand access to heavily used drugs with ventilated patients. Among Vizient’s recommendations: They asked the FDA to approve new manufacturing lines or facilities to manufacture these drugs.

According to Kistner, the FDA has been receptive.

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