ORLANDO, Fla. — Local pediatricians are having a hard time finding a popular drug used to keep patients from feeling pain during surgeries.
A shortage of the drug lidocaine is even forcing some doctors to delay operations.
Doctors nationwide are also feeling the impact of the shortage with pediatricians, podiatrists, and dermatologists really feeling the effects.
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Lidocaine is one of over 120 drugs that the FDA said is in short supply right now.
Pediatrician Salma Elfaki said a shortage of lidocaine means she has had to postpone elective procedures for some of her Lake Nona patients, a frustration shared by podiatrist Priya Parthasarathy.
“We tried to place an order and we can’t get any until March or February,” Elfaki said.
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“I have one vial left in my office,” Parthasarathy said. “A procedure that could simply be done in the office had to be taken to a hospital or surgery center, where IV or general anesthesia has had to be used.”
The lidocaine shortage is not new but demand shot up during covid and made things worse.
“We had many patients going into the hospital needing to have an intubation tube put in their throat to help them breathe, and often lidocaine would be administered,” said Stephen Schondelmeyer from the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy.
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Schondelmeyer studies drug resiliency. He says lidocaine production is seeing the same production problems that landed 121 other drugs on this FDA list. For starters, it’s mostly produced abroad and limited to less than a dozen factories.
In addition, COVID-19 shutdowns set some manufacturers back, and while the FDA helps mitigate shortages, he says right now there’s not a good way of preventing shortages ahead of time.
“I do think congress needs to step up and set up a process to monitor the supply of pharmaceutical drugs,” Schondelmeyer said.
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With patient care at stake, doctors want to see something done too.
“We need more of these medications being manufactured and our hands are tied. And so just like they were able to manufacture more COVID-19 vaccines, this also takes precedence,” Parthasarathy said.
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