Washingtonian – Special report: Because of nationwide shortages, Washington hospitals are rationing, hoarding, and bartering critical nutrients premature babies and other patients need to survive. Doctors are reporting conditions normally seen only in developing countries, and there have been deaths. How could this be allowed to happen? “Doctors and pharmacists say that because of nationwide shortages caused by a combination of factors—manufacturing problems, a market with few incentives for companies to produce low-profit drugs, and the government’s delayed and inadequate action—thousands of patients are being malnourished…There are 300 drug, vitamin, and trace-element shortages in the US, the highest number ever recorded…The Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) estimates that each year at least 120,000 NICU babies need parenteral nutrition, and another 370,000 other patients receive PN in the hospital, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The nutrients in shortage aren’t rare. “We’re talking about zinc, phosphorous, calcium—trace elements,” says CHA president Mark Wietecha. “These aren’t the latest genetically modified drugs or something coming out of modern high-tech environments. These have been around for decades…” See also CDC’s Strategic National Stockpile (SNS)
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