Paramedics Facing Drug Shortage in West County
A West County fire marshal sends out an alert about drug shortages for emergency crews and issue is only expected to get worse.
Although the alert came from Chesterfield's Fire Marshal Roger Herin, West County and EMS Fire Protection District, which serves Town and Country and Manchester, is seeing the shortage too.
Following is the alert sent out by Herin.
We have become aware that emergency medical services are facing a shortage of essential medications.
Monarch Fire Protection District Deputy Chief of EMS Nick Harper states that it is getting increasingly difficult to obtain certain medications now, and more are expected to be in short supply in the near future.
This could mean that ambulances may not have the medications to treat patients before arrival at hospitals.
Chief Harper is on the registry for notification of drug shortages with the Centers for Disease Control and FDA, which keeps him current on the situation.
Harper tells Patch that his team has had to shop outside of the typical hospital purchase market, which is costing more.
"Hospitals can't buy enough," Harper said, to furnish the EMS sufficiently.
Deputy Chief Jeff Sadtler, West County's acting fire chief, tells Patch that the drug shortage is not only affecting paramedica responding to 911 calls, but hospitals too.
"We're all having the same issues, it's the same for the hospitals. It doesn't just affect us. As it stands right now, they have a stockpile, obviously they have more of a capability of an overhead than we do, so they've sort of been rationing them," Sadtler explaind. "But eventually it's going affect the hosptials too, and it kind of already has."
Some of the primary shortages include pain killers, and drugs that kick up the heartbeat on a patient.
Sadtler said the shortage has EMS crews using similar medications that offer the same effect on patients and it should not affect their care.
"What we're trying to do is find alternatives for the medications," Sadtler said. "It shouldn't affect the outcomes at all, but there are some things that are going to be potentially problematic, like some of the pain medications that we give."
Sadtler said there is no clear solution to the shortage in the near future.
"Not really, it's a manufacturing problem," Sadtler said.
The FDA changed manufacturing guidelines and the stricter guidelines have forced companies to reevaluate many drugs, including their production.
Harper also said a shortage of raw materials, and the processes to create the drug seem to be lagging behind demand.
For example, in 2008 there were 132 shortages reported to authorities. In 2011, there were 178 shortages reported, Harper said.
"Right now we're dealing with a shortage, down the line we'll be dealing with more of an expense issue," Sadtler tells Patch.