Is there no solution: Saline shortage creates issue for US hospitals
Hospitals across the US are desperately searching for a solution after manufacturers started rationing saline - the salt and water mix used to clean wounds, mix medications and hydrate patients.
Bizarrely, making bags of salt and water is a deceptively complex process, with manufacturing taking up to three weeks due to a 30-step procedure to ensure the saline is sterile.
Drug companies say they won’t be able to catch up with demand until next year.
‘To make one of these drugs is very complex, even though the drug itself is simple,’ said Valerie Jensen, the director of the drug shortage program at the Food and Drug Administration.
The Food and Drug Administration has tried to deal with the shortage by importing saline from abroad but economists have warned it’s not a sustainable solution as all countries have to supply their own hospitals.
‘There is no spot market,’ said FDA economist Marta Wosinska.
‘You can’t buy it like pork bellies or grains or oil.’
Hospitals have developed protocols to conserve supplies, but with the shortage set to continue through to the end of the year, experts have warned the increased demand for saline and labour costs will make it the most expensive drug shortage in history.