Hospital drug shortages: What is really causing them?

Most of us assume that a saline IV drip for dehydration or a nitroglycerin injection for heart attack symptoms would be available at any hospital any time in the U.S. Yet both are on a growing list of drug shortages.

Currently, the FDA’s Drug Shortage Program (DSP) lists 60 drugs, mostly generic injectables, that are in short supply. The DSP list is not comprehensive, relying on information provided voluntarily by manufacturers and distributors. The University of Utah Drug Information Service, which also tracks shortages, puts the number of drugs impacted at 156.

Most of the drugs on these lists would sound foreign to anyone outside of medical school, but a few like the saline drip should be familiar to even those with a basic understanding of high school chemistry or medical care. Sodium chloride (salt water), dextrose (sugar), electrolyte fluids, vitamin E, morphine, and lidocaine all appear on both lists, sometimes multiple times for different solution concentrations. How is it possible that hospitals in one of the richest nations in the world could be experiencing shortages of salt solution, sugar solution, electrolytes, vitamin E and basic painkillers?

The complete article can be found here.