Just as flu season surges into high gear throughout the United States, many clinics and hospitals are grappling with a dangerous shortage of intravenous saline bags. This shortage, which began in 2014, has been made much worse by severe damage caused by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico – the largest supplier of IV bags.
Intravenous fluids are an essential part of treatment for many conditions – an IV is the fastest way to replenish fluids and administer medication. Because of this shortage, some health care facilities are giving fluids and medicines orally when possible.
Earlier this month, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Scott Gottlieb, M.D., issued a statement regarding the agency’s continued efforts to address the IV saline shortage. The FDA expects the supply to improve as power and internet services are restored in Puerto Rico and additional IV bag suppliers of are identified. But the commissioner cautions that the shortages will not fully resolve immediately.