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Shortage of Saline Solution Puts Hospitals in a Squeeze

American hospitals are suffering a severe shortage of a basic supply, saline solution for IV use. Both the FDA and hospital pharmacists around the country have noted the shortage, which has driven up prices. IV bags of saline that would normally cost around $1 now can command prices five or six times higher. Keep in mind that this is salt water.

In addition, pharmacists and nurses have to work much harder to make certain the shortage does not have a negative impact on patient care. The vast majority of patients get IV saline sometime during a hospitalization.

There are three suppliers: Baxter Healthcare, B. Braun Medical and Hospira. Factory shutdowns over Christmas and New Year’s may have contributed to the problem. Whatever the source of the shortage, this crisis highlights the lack of a national plan for overcoming such emergencies.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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Sounds like what would expect at the beginning of 2014. Shortage is better way of saying; “hey sorry folks but we need to raise prices” “Well is all about demand you see. The more you want it the more we want to charge for it”

“Hey guys, lets close down over the Christmas holiday. Then we can raise the price like hell and start the year off with a big profit.” Capitalism at it’s worst.

This is bad news for people who are allergic to corn. If we need IVs, they must be saline solution only. The dextrose/glucose IVs made from corn can cause severe allergic reactions.

A shortage doesn’t constitute a reason to experience higher prices. Just the opposite. Possibly weather related closures might force overtime and thus a minor increase in cost but nothing justifies the increases reported. This appears to be nothing less than gouging. Relatively speaking, these cost are trivial enough to the overall hospital stay that they will go under the radar and that is what a manufacturer could be banking on. A faucet was briefly turned on and someone made a lot of money.

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