Shortage of Anesthetics and Painkillers

Shortage of Anesthetics and Painkillers Due to Coronavirus Demand

The Covid-19 outbreak has put immense pressure on the pharmaceutical supply chain, with increasingly common spot shortages of certain meds.  Now the drugs used during treatment and ventilation, such as anesthetics and painkillers are growing scarce as thousands of Covid-19 patients are flooding the hospitals.

The FDA, citing increased demand, posted updated shortages of anesthetics propofol and midazolam on Friday. The FDA said that with companies like Hikma Pharmaceuticals and
Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories unable to source active pharmaceutical ingredients for the drug propofol, a resupply could occur as late as October. Meanwhile, there are certain doses still available for midazolam, but other doses may not be until early 2021 at the latest, according to the FDA.

To combat the ongoing shortages, increased production and imports of midazolam, a controlled substance, will be allowed, said the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) last week. On its production increase list, the DEA included a range of painkillers and sedatives, including diazepam, phenobarbital, ketamine, and fentanyl.

Uttam Dhillon, acting DEA Administrator said in a release, “During this public health emergency, DEA is committed to ensuring an uninterrupted and adequate supply of critical medications. Should the

need arise to increase the production of these important drugs, this will ensure that the manufacturers can move forward accordingly.”

According to the Washington Post, not only painkillers and anesthetic supplies but asthma inhalers also are hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Post reported that, in hospitals and retail pharmacies, there was a chain reaction that led to shortages of albuterol asthma inhalers due to doctors attempting to keep patients off nebulizers. Hospitals require large 50-milligram doses, in the case of fentanyl that is used to treat ventilated patients, that quickly ran scarce which caused a cascade effect down the supply chain. Over-the-counter meds like Tylenol are also facing shortages.

Johnson & Johnson said in a statement last week that, after heightened demand strained supply, the drugmaker reported a “temporary” scarcity of Tylenol. J&J said it would speed up production and the shortage is limited to specific regions. J&J is working to keep supplies running to consumers and hospitals and is working with retailers to “encourage” purchasing limits.

Shortages of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, antimalarial meds, thought as a possible COVID-19 therapeutic was reported previously by the FDA.

As the push for a COVID-19 therapeutic continues, Gilead Sciences’ therapeutic hopeful remdesivir has neared shortages among the other approved drugs and investigational candidates. Gilead is pledging to donate 1.5 million doses of the drug ready or nearly ready for shipment as it said last week that it had stepped up production of remdesivir to meet heightened demand.


Shortage of Anesthetics and Painkillers 


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