Pharma increases sedative drug production for COVID-19 patients as FDA declare shortages

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to sweep across the US, around 12% of intensive care hospitalized COVID-19 patients need to be placed on a ventilator. Not only does the procedure to do this require thousands of patients to be sedated, but they must also remain sedated if they have to stay on a ventilator longer-term.

This situation has resulted in a shortage of sedative drug treatments as manufacturers have struggled to keep up with demand, with some drugs like propofol now in such short supply that it has been placed on the FDA’s Drug Shortages list, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Fiona Barry, Associate Editor at PharmSource, a GlobalData product, comments: “GlobalData’s analysis of the latest FDA Drug Shortages list shows that many of the medicines in short supply are injectable sedatives used in hospitalized, ventilated COVID-19 patients and in response to this we are seeing an increase in the production of sedative drugs.”

Healthcare providers experiencing drug shortages include Accord Healthcare, which has declared it is experiencing shortages of the injectable sedative dexmedetomidine and Sagent Pharmaceuticals has announced it is experiencing shortages of propofol.

To meet demand, several manufacturers have increased production of these medicines including Bachem Holding AG, Recipharm AB and Hikma Pharmaceuticals which have increased production of propofol.

According to GlobalData’s Drugs by Manufacturer database, Bachem contract manufactures the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) in propofol for AstraZeneca, which sells the drug under the brand name Diprivan. QuVa Pharma has also increased production of several medicines for critically ill COVID-19 patients including fentanyl, morphine, hydromorphone, epinephrine, midazolam, ketamine, succinylcholine, rocuronium, norepinephrine, and vancomycin.

Barry adds: “QuVa has stated that this increase in production has only been possible because of the FDA’s ‘Temporary Policy for Compounding of Certain Drugs for Hospitalized Patients by Outsourcing Facilities During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency’ and the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) increase in the quota for controlled substances.”

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