Healthy Living

Amino acid and saline shortage continues months after Hurricane Maria

It’s been over 100 days since Hurricane Maria made landfall, but Puerto Rican prescription drug manufacturers are still experiencing drug shortages. The saline shortage and amino acid shortage, though improving, is still a great work in progress.

The US Food and Drug Administration is working tirelessly to assist in improving the productivity of drug manufacturers in Puerto Rico.

Two of the major drugs that remain in shortage are saline and amino acids. Saline is a common solution used to rehydrate patients and to dilute cancer drugs, antibiotics, and pain killers. Amino acids are a critical need for patients unable to eat, needing to receive nutrition through an IV.

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Baxter, a major manufacturer of IV saline, says its facilities on the island are back on the commercial power grid.

Though Baxter and other companies have power, the FDA reports that commercial power grids remain unstable. Production is still playing catch-up.

The FDA is hoping the saline shortage will improve in early 2018

Due to this issue, the FDA is encouraging companies to submit data to extend expiration dates of critical drugs, like IV saline. The FDA is working to identify other supply sources for saline.

“Based on the progress made so far and what we expect to see in the coming weeks, I’m confident we’ll continue to make progress toward that goal in the new year,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D.

FDA officials report all other companies that manufacture critical products are on the power grid, saying their production is increasing.

The FDA is working to approve IV saline products from additional companies like Fresenius Kabi and Laboratorios Grifols

Baxter also manufacturers IV amino acids and are expecting their production to increase over the coming weeks. ICU Medical, a company that previously manufactured amino acids, is returning to market early this year.

“Given the improvements we’ve seen over the last few weeks, I’m optimistic that supplies of IV saline and amino acids will increase over the next few weeks,” Gottlieb stated.

The FDA says they are aware of the burden on health care providers and health system organizations. The administration plans to continue to provide information supporting the management of shortages.

Though it is not in shortage due to Hurricane Maria, there is an Atenolol shortage, due to an increase in demand. Atenolol is a popular beta blocker, used to treat high blood pressure.