Some injectable sedatives used for ventilated COVID-19 patients are experiencing shortages, finds GlobalData

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has increased the demand for drugs used to sedate the mechanically ventilated COVID-19 patients and has resulted in shortages for some of these drugs, specifically propofol and dexmedetomidine hydrochloride, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, about 20% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients need to be placed on ventilators. These patients must be sedated for the procedure and are often kept sedated while on the ventilators.

Fiona Barry, Associate Editor at PharmSource, a GlobalData product, comments: “It’s noteworthy that both these generic drugs are injectable sedatives used in hospitalized, ventilated patients, including COVID-19 patients. We’re seeing a trend for shortages of these types of sterile injectable medicines.”

Accord Healthcare Inc. has declared that it is experiencing shortages of the injectable sedative drug dexmedetomidine 200mcg/2mL due to resource constraints and supply chain interruptions caused by COVID-19. Accord estimates that it will no longer have the drug available due to shortages by late June. Dexmedetomidine hydrochloride has estimated sales of US$318m globally and is manufactured by other companies, although Sandoz discontinued its dexmedetomidine vials in April 2020.

Sagent Pharmaceuticals Inc. is also experiencing shortages of another anesthetic drug, propofol, injectable emulsion 200mg/20mL, 500mg/50mL and 1,000mg/100mL. This shortage has been caused by the increased demand due to COVID-19 ventilated patients. Propofol is used for the induction and maintenance of general anesthesia.

Pfizer is also experiencing a shortage of propofol due to the current surge in the demand, which has exceeded Pfizer’s historical demand.

Barry concludes: “As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt supply chains due to the current or possibly new outbreaks, more shortages in medicines could emerge. Additionally, these shortages will also affect non-COVID-19 patients as these medicines are used for other treatments as well.”

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