Health Care Plagued By New Supply Chain Shortages



Staff | Axios

From medications to gloves to crutches, the strains of the global supply chain are hitting U.S. health care hard.

Why it matters: Shortages of health care supplies can quickly jump from a nuisance to a life-or-death proposition. They indicate serious vulnerabilities in the U.S. health care supply chain.

State of play: After seeing major supply shortages for protective equipment and ventilators in the early months of the pandemic, critical supplies stabilized and, in some places, demand for domestic products later bottomed out.

Now global supply chain tie-ups are rippling across the industry again, leading to extended wait times for commonly used supplies and equipment.

What they’re saying: “We’re experiencing a vast array of global challenges that, layered together, create bottlenecks in a system not designed for such demands,” according to an October report from medical supply giant Premier.

Premier projects the problems for health care to last well into 2022.

Details: Some hospitals around the U.S. recently began seeking donations of aluminum crutches, walkers and wheelchairs.

The FDA is investigating allegations that used medical gloves were washed and resold as new gloves.

Blood tubes and Foley catheters are also among some of the products in short supply at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, ABC 33/40 reported.

There are shortages of raw materials for manufacturing, including semiconductors, or chips commonly used in electronics, and plastic resins that can be used to make everything from car parts to heart valves.

The chip shortage hit ResMed, a company that creates ventilators, sleep apnea machines, and other respiratory equipment, San Diego Union-Tribune reported last week.

What they’re saying: “I am definitely working with some of the biggest names out there and really asking, begging, pleading that we should prioritize medical devices over another cellphone, another electric car, another cloud-connected refrigerator,” ResMed CEO Mick Farrell told the Union-Tribune.

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