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Saving Seconds by Solving the Emergency Syringe Shortage

In an emergency, every second counts.

When dealing with a serious medical event, physicians and nurses need every possible supply at their fingertips, ready for immediate use. But imagine you’re responding to a 28-year-old mother suffering from a severe allergic reaction. You reach down into the crash cart of supplies to search for an emergency syringe of epinephrine, the drug that’s needed to save her life, only to come up empty handed.

Sadly, that’s the reality in emergency rooms across the country, where life-saving drugs vital to patient care just aren’t available.

After a period of decline, drug shortages in America increased significantly in 2018, with an estimated 124 drugs currently not available in U.S. hospitals. According to a 2018 survey conducted by the American College of Emergency Physicians, 90 percent of emergency doctors said they routinely lacked access to critical medicines, and another 40 percent said patients had been negatively affected as a result.

Drug shortages are particularly dire in the case of emergency, pre-filled syringes.

Pre-filled syringes became the “go-to” standard for emergency care because they are already measured in the exact adult dose and ready to use for immediate injection, speeding response times and minimizing the potential for dosing errors.

But, across the country, emergency syringes used to treat allergic reactions, manage trauma, treat heart attacks and reverse the effects of poisonings are nowhere to be had. Without them, first responders are forced to backpedal and jerry rig alternatives, either administering the needed drug using vials or turning to a substitute product. Either response takes extra time that patients in a medical emergency don’t have.

These drugs are in shortage because the market that produces them is unhealthy. Many emergency syringes are low-margin, generic drugs made by just a handful of companies, creating a fragile supply that isn’t strong enough to handle disruptions or surges in demand. Persuading new entrants to get into this market and increase the supply has historically been difficult because there just isn’t enough financial incentive attached for them to do so.

Until now.

Earlier this year, Premier extended its efforts to reliably source generic drugs in shortage with the ProvideGx program.

ProvideGx™ aggregates the demand of thousands of hospitals across the country, and approaches manufacturers with a guaranteed buyer-base if they agree to enter a new market or increase their production of shortage products. This creates a predictable sales channel for the manufacturer, thereby cutting down the financial risks. In exchange, hospitals get a guaranteed supply, at a guaranteed price point. And, most importantly, patients across the country can access needed medications in a timely manner.

Through this work, ProvideGx partnered with Amphastar Pharmaceuticals to produce pre-filled, emergency syringes of calcium chloride, epinephrine, phytonadione, sodium bicarbonate, atropine sulfate, dextrose and lidocaine – seven front-line drugs routinely used in emergency department crash carts.

By finding creative financing and group purchasing options, ProvideGx is delivering a real remedy to the emergency syringe shortage problem – something that many have promised, but none were able to deliver.

When lives are on the line, emergency responders need immediate access to the right drug, at the right time, in the right dosage.

That means getting to the root causes of drug shortages and remediating them with a systematic and sustainable approach.

ProvideGx has put us on that sustainable path. And emergency first responders – and their patients – are better off for it.


Learn more about how ProvideGx™ is solving for drug shortages across the U.S.

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