Intense Flu Season Complicates Saline Shortage

February 1, 2018

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb says FDA is committed to meet the challenges faced by the saline shortage during an aggressive flu season.

On Feb. 1, 2018, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, released another statement regarding the saline shortage caused by hurricane damage in Puerto Rico. In this latest statement Gottlieb specifically addressed how the current flu season, which started earlier than usual, has complicated the situation further. This year’s influenza has spread quickly and resulted in a number of people being hospitalized.

Treating this aggressive flu is challenged by the current shortage of certain saline products used to hydrate and deliver intravenous medicines. The saline shortage was worsened by the effects of Hurricane Maria; these effects are still being felt by areas of Puerto Rico. Facilities that manufacture small volume intravenous bags were hit hard by the storm.

FDA has been monitoring the situation and working with companies to ensure an adequate supply of saline products. The agency has extended expiration dates of some products and has encourage companies to submit data on possibly extending expiration dates on more products. The importation of products from foreign facilities is also being worked on.

While the supply has increased, the agency is continuing to communicate with providers, manufacturers, distributors, and other partners to address the situation. FDA is also working with healthcare providers to identify gaps in the supply chain.

“While we expect that the flu season will peak soon, we’re committed to working with our partners to address the challenges we face until this severe flu season ends. We are also optimistic that saline supplies will continue to improve over the coming weeks. But, we recognize that rising demand for these products may continue to put a strain on availability, even as production and supply grow. We remain committed to looking at innovative ways that we can connect partners across the supply chain to find solutions and foster communication,” Gottlieb said in the statement. 

Source: FDA