Called the “simplest of drugs”, baking soda, is in short supply at hospitals around the country, causing critical surgeries and treatments to be reconsidered. The fundamental -not to mention- cheap drug may be found in your own pantry, according to New York Times‘ reports.
The drug in short supply is sodium bicarbonate solution, more commonly known as baking soda, which is used in chemo regimens, as a poison antidote, and to help patients whose blood has deviated into acidic ranges, and many other uses.
Unbelievably, the nation’s only two suppliers, Pfizer and Amphastar, are suddenly not able to give hospitals and other medical facilities what they need. The shortage is causing those facilities to closely guard what’s left in their own supply.
“Does the immediate need of a patient outweigh the expected need of a patient?” asks the head pharmacist at a hospital in Mobile, Ala.,
This same pharmacist calls the shortage a “medical and ethical question that goes beyond anything I’ve had to experience before.” Problems can arise when things go wrong at the factory level or when suppliers of the raw ingredients have issues, leaving medical staff and administers irritated at the short notice they receive about the lack.
The FDA website lists dozens of drugs said to be “currently in shortage,”
Many of these drugs are critical generic injectables. Some pharmacy officials even wonder if manufacturers aren’t investing enough to ensure adequate supplies since generic drugs aren’t known as the moneymakers.
The “compounding pharmacies” some hospitals have in order to whip up their own generic drugs, can’t solve the larger problem. “It is unbelievably frustrating,” a University of Utah drug shortage expert tells the Times, which notes Pfizer and Amphastar can’t guarantee more sodium bicarbonate supplies until at least June and maybe not until August in some cases.
This article is adapted from Newser: Hospitals Are Scrambling for the ‘Simplest of Drugs’