U.S. may get more ventilators but run out of medicine for COVID-19 patients

“We have seen an increase in demand on pharmaceuticals that’s unprecedented,” says Daniel Kistner, who manages the pharmacy program for Vizient, a group purchasing organization that negotiates lower prices with drug manufacturers. “Never seen anything like this before across the whole country.”

This week, Vizient released data showing dramatic spikes in demand for sedatives, pain medications, paralytics, and other drugs that are crucial for patients who are on ventilators. According to Vizient’s study, the rate at which those orders are filled is lagging far behind the demand.

“We’re not at a rate yet where there’s just no drug,” Kistner says, “but we are quickly approaching it.”

One complicating factor: “Injectable drugs take a long time to make,” Kistner says. “For instance, there’s a 21-day sterility period needed for all injectable drugs. So it’s not something simple that you can do overnight.”