Supply of critical supportive medications needed for ventilating COVID-19 patients is dwindling, according to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP).

In a letter to the Trump Administration, ASHP warned that medications such as opioids, (eg, fentanyl, morphine, hydromorphone), sedatives (eg, midazolam, propofol), and paralytics (eg, pancuronium, rocuronium, succinylcholine), which must be administered concomitantly with mechanical ventilation, are already in or will likely be in shortage as the demand for these drugs to treat critically ill patients outpaces supply. 

Rather than basing supply on historical allocation, the organization is calling for an immediate increase in production to keep up with the rising demand prompted by the pandemic. With regard to controlled substances used for supportive care, the ASHP has requested that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) increase annual production quota allocations of the most critical medications

In addition, ASHP is asking the government to release drugs from the Strategic National Stockpile to states that have the greatest number of cases.   

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“Even if hospitals had all of the ventilators needed to keep patients alive, this critical shortage of medications could make it impossible to maintain COVID-19 patients on those ventilators, and therefore result in harm,” said ASHP CEO Paul W. Abramowitz, PharmD, ScD (Hon), FASHP. “It is imperative that the manufacturing of these medications be increased immediately and available supply is allocated based on current projections of critical care patient volume, rather than based on historical allocations, which do not reflect current need.”   

For more information visit ashp.org.