Our Saline Shortage

Our current saline shortage echoes earlier saline shortages, in that supply is often tight following natural disasters (2017 hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico taking out Baxter’s manufacturing plant, etc.). There is nothing like a pandemic being fought with multiple vaccination injections to highlight this, as well. The war in Ukraine’s reduction in availability of petroleum products to make plastics has also played quite a role. But, our saline supply (meaning not only the bags and saline solution itself, but including the vials and syringes for administration) has often been precarious. This most recent shortage may have been entirely predictable once it became clear all the stars were in alignment for another shortage. And, yet, we are completely reactive in the face of the acknowledgement that some U.S. hospitals are receiving less than half of the saline and saline administration equipment needed — children’s hospitals even less because production is even lower for the very smallest size saline bags and saline administration equipment. Those same saline and saline product producers remain largely non-responsive to the Cares Act requirement of reporting of potential pipeline problems.

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