PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A shortage of intravenous supplies has many in the medical community concerned and scrambling to get patients the drugs they need, especially with the increase of flu cases.
The IV shortage caused by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico temporarily shutdown pharmaceutical manufacturing plants that produce most of the United States’ supplies.
It’s impacting how Xenia Trejo gets chemotherapy for brain cancer, with nurses shuffling scarce supplies.
“These nurses work so hard,” Ben Boyer, Xenia’s husband, said. “It worries me that they don’t have everything they could possibly need at at their disposal.”
“We all need to understand that there is a crisis brewing with this,” Dr. Joseph Montella of Cooper University Hospital said.
Dr. Montella says quick planning and action have kept the crisis under control.
“Every single patient has gotten exactly the fluid and the care that they needed,” he said.
Cooper has instituted a conservation program that includes things like switching patients to oral medication when possible and daily evaluations to make sure the IV treatments are really necessary.
“None of our patients would notice any difference,” Dr. Montella said.
But now with the flu season ramping up, there are growing concerns around the country about having enough IV treatments, because many influenza patients aren’t able to keep down oral medications
“Yes, it is going to be a little bit more challenging but we’re ready to meet the challenge,” Dr. Montella said.
The FDA expects the shortages will start to ease over the next few weeks but stress that the situation in Puerto Rico remains fragile and it’s a major medical hub. The island produces $40 billion a year in pharmaceuticals for the United States.