Pipette Tip Shortage Hinders Bio/Pharmaceutical Development and Testing

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A shortage of pipette tips has been attributed to several factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to published reports (1–3), a global shortage of pipette tips is hindering the development and analytical testing of bio/pharmaceuticals by companies as well as the ability to conduct COVID-19 tests, among other health-related testing.

One report attributes the global shortage to a series of events that have recently plagued the pipette tip supply chain, including “blackouts, fires, and pandemic-related demand” (1). The shortage may also be putting pressure on biotech companies that are developing new therapeutics to prioritize which experiments they can conduct on new drugs being developed in their pipelines. However, thus far, biotech companies have been taking steps to conserve limited pipettes and have not had their work disrupted (1).

In December 2020, FDA added pipette tips and micro pipettes to its device shortage list (2), and, in March 2021, the results of a national survey of board-certified pathologists conducted by the College of American Pathologists showed that 45% of laboratories testing for COVID-19 have been having difficulties obtaining needed testing supplies. According to the survey, 30% of respondents reported having difficulty acquiring pipette tips within the previous three months (3). According to a press release, shortages of testing supplies place a substantial burden on laboratories that are diagnosing coronavirus disease. These shortages require national attention to mitigate the disruptions.



1. K. Sheridan, “How Blackouts, Fires, and a Pandemic are Driving Shortages of Pipette Tips—and Hobbling Science,” www.statnews.com, April 28, 2021.
2. FDA, “Medical Device Shortages During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency,” www.fda.gov, accessed April 29, 2021.
3. College of American Pathologists, “COVID-19 Testing Supply Shortages Disrupt 45% of Laboratories, CAP Survey Shows,” Press Release, March 11, 2021.