Skip to Main Content

On top of the overwhelming shortages of medical equipment required to combat Covid-19, there are now signs that medicines needed for patients who are placed on ventilators are also in short supply.

The medicines include more than a dozen sedatives, anesthetics, painkillers, and muscle relaxants, and the shortages raise the possibility that it could become more difficult for health care providers to place these patients on ventilators. This is because the drugs are used to help manage patient pain and comfort levels so they can benefit from mechanical ventilation.


There has been a 51% increase in demand so far this month for half a dozen different sedatives and anesthetics: propofol, dexmedetomidine, etomidate, ketamine, lorazepam, and midazolam. But the fill rate —  the rate that orders were able to filled and shipped to hospitals —dropped from 100% at the beginning of the month to just 63% on March 24.

Unlock this article by subscribing to STAT+ and enjoy your first 30 days free!

  • Surprise, surprise? Not even. Pain patients have been saying this for months, if not years. The DEA has taken down legitimate doctors (we sure could use them), they’ve strangled production of these essential meds, they’ve made people suffer, and now they’re making more suffer because of their stupid anti-opioid, anti-benzo hysteria. Welcome to the reality they produced. Thousands of us have suffered for too long and seen this coming. Put the blame where it is: Our government caused this shortage.

  • My two neighbors who are prescribed morphine and Norco each month for chronic conditions have had absolutely no difficulty getting their legitimate supply from local pharmacies. Other medications in particular certain sedatives, muscle relaxers and antibiotics have had temporary supply disruptions for a few days or so.

  • I would say that a large % of our drug shortages are due to The DEA trying to play Dr when the drastically slashed our estimated drug usage , another example of what the CDC &DEA have done over the fake opiod crisis that was in most part conjured up by them to start with.

    • Exactly pain pts have. Even saying this was gonna happen if we ever had a crisis guess what its happening and who suffers again the legitimate pts !!!! Aging torcher to leave someone on a vent alive with no comfort measures. Wheres the. DEA this isnt the FDA DOUNG THIS IS A DEA PROBLEM AND . CDC DUE TO OPIOID HYSTERIA AND FAKE CRISIS WHEN DUE TOO ILLEGSL DRUG CRISIS. AGAING LEGITIMATE PTS SUFFER THE CONSEQUES. CALL THE DEA IS WHAT THE DEA WEBSITE SAID IF YOUR HAVING SHORTAGES OF MEDS

  • We need to use CENPV or Biphasic Cuirass Ventilators to save many lives being lost to Covid19 critical patients on intubated positive pressure ventilators. We need to make this switch as soon as possible. Accelerating SARS2 antibody immunoglobin plasma infusions must be done as soon as possible. Using TB vaccine to arrest CoVid19 symptoms should be done as soon as possible for critical near death patients. Let’s get the lead out and save lives with these better methods right now

  • CENPV uses a chest-abdomen cuirass to provide negative pressure ventilation to patients with loss of lung function and requires no intubation and much less medications for sedation and pain control. TheCENPV results in much less lung damage and better oxygenation of the patiento blood than these positive pressure Ventilators currently being used and running out of stock. Let’s get with it and save lives NOW.

  • What I would like to know is why in the hell do we keep using positive pressure ventilation with intubation for CoVid-19 when the lower lung function begins to detiriorate? Why don’t we start using negative pressure ventilation systems to keep patients alive much like was done 100 years ago for Polio, TB and other Pneumonic conditions and work on building up antibodies in the patient using plasma globulins antibodies, direct infusion of plasmas and antibody stimulating drugs? Use antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections and if antibiotic resistant use Bacteriophage contails to kill bacterial invasions. I believe we would have much better outcomes and survivals if we employed negative pressure ventilation on critical cases of COVID 19.

    • Exactly less lung damage !! But the meds you still need are still shortages because the se grease manufacture forced by the DEA and the president long before the virus crisis and pain pts have said all along this was gonna happen during the crisis and legitimate pts suffer because of it !! Have been cut to much the manufacturing amounts to meet demand . Hospotols were short long before this crisis now they dont have at all .legitimate pts awake on a vent suffering I hope not that would be horrific !! Painful when you cant breath!!

    • My two neighbors who are prescribed morphine and Norco each month for chronic conditions have had absolutely no difficulty getting their legitimate supply from local pharmacies. Other medications in particular certain sedatives, muscle relaxers and antibiotics have had temporary supply disruptions for a few days or so.

  • Finally! Coverage on what else it takes to have a patient on a ventilator. You can get GM to crank out all the ventilators it can handle, but without the medication absolutely necessary to have someone on a vent, a ventilator is nothing more than a very large paperweight. Next up for coverage: If you’ve got the ventilator and the medication necessary to have someone on a ventilator, who’s going to do the care management? Hint: Doctors don’t actively manage ventilator care — respiratory therapists and critical care nurses do. Where are they going to come from? especially as they get Covid and have to stay home

  • I recommend apropos of the above an article from the NYTimes of March 27th, “A Heart Attack? No It was the Coronavirus,” which suggests that myocarditis (caused by viruses), and pericarditis (caused by inflammation) are possible heart issues that must be considered when patients are attached to ventilators. Which begs the question: Are cardiologists involved in the treatment of these patients?

    • That would vary considerably, depending on the specific physician(s) overseeing the ventilator care (usually intensivists, pulmonologists, or hospitalists) and the specific hospital. A sharp physician in a well-resourced hospital might make the referral. A less-sharp physician in a less-resourced hospital — well …

    • In addition, it appears that the legitimate hospital supply chain need for three analgesics — hydromorphone, fentanyl, and morphine and their components (manufactured in China and India) are getting competition from the illegal drug cartels who also are complaining of lack of supply from the Chinese and Indian sources for their illegal hydromorphone, fentanyl, morphine, etc. as well as the precursor chemicals for methamphetamine production. This is something the governments of USA, Canada and Mexico should look into and talk to supplying governments in order to get support for the legal, hospital supply chain to be restored and not have to compete with the illegal supply chain during the crisis.

Comments are closed.