Are hospitals running short on drugs for heart attack victims?

A local pharmacy director says it's a shortage not seen in over forty years.

A nationwide shortage of a solution found in baking soda has some concerned hospitals may struggle to treat heart attack victims.

Only two American drug firms make sterile sodium bicarbonate, which hospitals keep on crash carts.

While drug shortages are nothing new (there was a saline solution shortage just a few years ago), the limited supply of sodium bicarbonate means this situation is different.

"It is truly one of the shortages that has impacted all of the hospitals across the country in a way we've never seen in probably 40 years," said Maricopa Integrated Health System pharmacy director Anna Sogard.

Sodium bicarbonate is a low-profit solution, so drug companies don't have much incentive to continue making it, but the two companies that do are both facing manufacturing delays.

"We in the industry really need to go back and revisit when companies are allowed to stop making a product," said Sogard. "Should they be in some cases if there is no alternative product?"

Hospitals are doing what they can to be sure their carts are stocked with sodium bicarbonate solution, but the shortage is expected to last through the end of the year.

Maricopa County Medical Center is finding its supplies in Europe and another drug-maker is importing the solution from Australia.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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