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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Critical Medicines in Short Supply

Essential medicines that we have used in the hospital for many years have suddenly fallen into short supply. Here are just a few of the drugs that we have little or none of:

Morphine, a narcotic analgesic. It has many uses, from pain control and positive hemodynamic influences in heart attacks to management of chronic and terminal pain conditions. Here at our hospital we have very little of it with no hope of getting more. We have terminally ill patients on constant infusion pumps. When we run out we simply may not have effective alternatives to give them.

Lidocaine, an anesthetic drug. We use it here to provide local anesthesia for minor surgical proceedures and wound repair. It is also used by the nurses to dilute other drugs for intramuscular injection to make shots much less painful. Additionally it is used to treat certain kinds of cardiac arrhythmias. There are alternatives to lidocaine, but these are in short supply too.

Etomidate is a drug we use here and on the ambulances to provide sedation for intubating patients who cannot protect their airway. WE DO NOT HAVE ANY and there is no hope of getting more. Intubation can mean the difference between life and death.

Some important antibiotics that have fallen in short supply are, Gentamicin, Vancomycin, Levaquin, Ampicillin sulbactam, and Azithromycin. Depending on the infection, substitutes for these drugs may not be appropriate.

There are many, many other important drugs which are depleted or in critically short supply.

Anyone want to take a guess why these shortages exist?

If you answered GOVERNMENT you guessed right.

According our friendly pharmacist, the federal gubment has imposed many new regulations on drug companies. Many of the manufacturers for reasons of cost have simply been unable to comply with these new regulations and have suspended operations. The remaining companies have been unable to keep up with demand and the shortages have suddenly occurred. I am surprised I have not heard anything about this on the news, but I guess maybe the lame stream media may be at work protecting the Obama administration from yet another fiasco due to the unintended consequences.

All I can tell you boys and girls is that we find ourselves in a critical situation. A letter or call to your congressman and senators might not be a bad idea.


  1. http://righttruth.typepad.com/right_truth/2012/03/alert-critical-medicines-in-short-supply-.html

  2. May the people involved in messing up the system fall victim to ills that need medication not available anymore....

  3. Dianne that would be a just reward.

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