The ACR is aware of the shortage of intravenous saline solutions produced in Puerto Rico that is beginning to emerge across the U.S. and in rheumatology practices. In September, Hurricanes Irma and Maria wreaked havoc on the island, wiping out the island’s power grid and greatly hindering saline solution production. Puerto Rico produces about 10% of the U.S. supply of saline solution.
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Baxter International has three plants on the island that supply the U.S. market with the low-volume saline bags, 50–100 mL, mainly used by physician practices and infusion centers. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is working with Baxter to limit the length of the shortage by allowing the company to temporarily import its mini bags from the company’s factories in Australia and Ireland. Baxter has not provided a timeline for when the saline bags will be back in stock, but the factories are currently working on procuring generators for the power grid to speed production.
The ACR understands further shortage of saline could have a negative impact on the normal operations of U.S. practices. In the event of an acute infusion reaction, the infusion of the biologic agent can be stopped and intravenous fluids can be initiated immediately to flush the patient’s line. The ACR advocacy and practice departments are monitoring the situation, and will keep the membership informed of changes or updates to avoid any disruption in patient care.
For questions or additional information, contact the ACR Practice Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.