An opioid shortage has hospital scrambling

The President has declared the opioid crisis a National Health Emergency, but as our nation is dealing with an opioid epidemic, a new crisis is coming to the forefront. 

There is a shortage of the powerful pain killer and it’s leaving U.S. hospitals scrambling.

“It’s kind of a ripple effect,” says Thomas Simmer the director of pharmacy at Sanford Health. 

Across the country, states are running low on injectable opioids in hospitals.

A local pharmacist tells us federal regulations due to opioid abuse is partly to blame for this new shortage.

“The FDA has set quotas on how much can be manufactured. Those quotas, in turn, have affected how many tablets, pills, and injectables that certain manufacturers can make,” Simmer says.

According to pharmacists, another reason for the current shortage, is manufacturing setbacks.

Pharmacies and hospitals across the country are being forced to react. 

“The pharmacy may utilize alternative treatments. Maybe it’s oral opioid medications instead of injectable medications,” says Mark Hardy the executive director of the North Dakota Board of Pharmacy. 

The limited supply hasn’t directly hit North Dakota hospitals yet, but Mark Hardy with the North Dakota Board of Pharmacy says there is an impact being felt.

“Definitely, it’s affecting North Dakota. It may not be visible to the public. And the reason I say that is because pharmacists are on the front lines of taking care of patients,” Hardy says. 


“Even though there are some shortages in some of the injectables and narcotics, we’ve been able to shift to some other meds,” Simmer adds. 

The pharmacists we spoke to say they’re working with other health care professionals to take steps to make sure care won’t be compromised.

Their biggest challenge, is making sure mistakes don’t happen when prescribing alternative medication.

“They’re going to take steps to try and mitigate those issues and make sure that the patient is well taken care of,” Hardy says. 

Hardy says he doesn’t expect the shortage to last more than a couple of months. However, the long term issue remains, supply, meeting a very high demand.
 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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