This Simple, Lifesaving Liquid Is Suddenly in Short Supply
Small saline-solution bags are ubiquitous in modern hospitals, cost about $1.50 each, and are the preferred method for delivering everything from painkillers and antibiotics to chemotherapy and heart drugs. The Cleveland Clinic, a top academic medical center, uses the bags to administer 350 different medicines, typical for hospitals across the country.
But supplies are running dangerously low. A long-standing problem, the situation worsened when Hurricane Maria
slammed into Puerto Rico, knocking out power at factories that make the small bags forBaxter International Inc., the product’s biggest supplier. Another large maker of the bags,B. Braun Medical Inc., is having problems of its own—the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is looking into reports of leaky and moldy intravenous bags. And a third,ICU Medical Inc., hasn’t been able to keep up with the increased demand. The industry has also been swept up in a U.S. Department of Justice criminal probe of possible collusion and price-fixing.