MedPage Today reports that hospitals across the country are grappling with a shortage of one of the most basic and essential medical supplies – IV saline. The shortage has put providers on edge throughout the year, especially after it affected many hospitals’ ability to cope with dehydrated patients during this year’s severe flu season.
Manufacturers say they will not be able to keep up with the demand for saline until 2015. The reason? The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found irregularities – including several serious safety concerns, such as leaking bags and particulate contamination – at every single saline manufacturing facility during inspections last year. Now, the suppliers have to make changes to comply with FDA safety requirements.
"To make one of these drugs is very complex, even though the drug itself is simple," said the FDA’s Valerie Jensen in an interview with MedPage Today. "It takes about 3 weeks to make one batch of normal saline from start to finish."