Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Nutrient Shortages For Preemies In The News Again

Remember a while back we shared a link to an article by Alexandra Robbins entitled, "Children Are Dying." The article was about nutrient shortages for preemies in many large cities. Although this article was mostly about Washington hospitals, it wasn't very long after, that we shared another article written by a physician at Texas Children's in Houston regarding the very same nutrient shortages. Upon more research the articles start to pile up and you quickly find yes this is a national emergency. Here is another about zinc shortages in the NICU and the devastation because of it. This article states, "The crisis is the latest in the nation’s ongoing struggle with drug shortages. After federal intervention in 2012, the number of new shortages has fallen markedly, down to just 26 this year from a record high of 267 in 2011. But the number of active shortages of essential medications -- including injectable trace elements, vitamins and electrolytes -- is now 323, higher than it’s ever been, according to the University of Utah Drug Information Service, which tracks the problem."

Then today yet another article about these nutrient shortages references Alexandra Robbins research that she found back when she was writing "Children Are Dying". This entire issue is extremely disturbing given the fact that the shortages are not being seen in other countries; however this most recent article from today puts a whole new spin on the issue - that is honestly quite sickening. In the article, Robbins states,""You'll hear about this trend called the vitamin drip, where celebrities, models, musicians and athletes are getting IV nutrition delivered intravenously because it's supposed to reenergize them, it's supposed to beautify them," says Robbins, who traced where the nutrients are coming from and found that in some cases, they are coming from the same limited pool used to supply hospitals. "So essentially, premature babies are suffering because they can't get access to the same nutrients that some celebrities are using to pretty-up before a photo shoot," says Robbins, who adds that people are also using the drugs for a hangover cure."" Here is more information about the celebrity trend and about the drips in the news.

Although Robbins reported on this there is still very much we don't know when it comes to this claim. It may just be that the problem is with the supplier, and they should make the hospitals a priority for delivery of any available vitamin drips. The celebrities using it may not have any knowledge of this shortage even going on. We have to dig deeper looking at the manufacturers, distributors, and regulations that may be keeping US distributors from buying in foreign countries where there are not any shortages like Europe.

Other reasons are sited as, "the problem being these nutrients are a low-profit item, and they are made by only a handful of manufacturers. They are not a priority for drug makers who prefer to switch their production lines to the manufacture of newer, higher-margin drugs", Robbins writes. Paul Raeburn, writes, "The primary reason that children are starving to death in hospitals seems to be that drug makers cannot make sufficient profits by feeding them. Their allegiance is to their shareholders, not to the children--and that's not their fault; they are doing what they are required to do."

May this year - The FDA issued a statement recently about the preemie nutrient shortages and it said that, "that total parenteral nutrition (TPN) in critical shortage will be imported into the United States and available to patients this week." The FDA states the shortages, "are largely the result of a decision by American Regent/Luitpold, a large manufacturer of TPN products, to temporarily shut down at the end of 2012. The FDA worked with American Regent in an effort to avoid a shutdown. The company, however, ultimately decided that it had to cease operations temporarily in order to address quality issues that included particulate matter in its injectable products. The FDA continues to work with the company to prioritize the most critical drugs in shortage as it restarts production, and on the quality issues, to protect patient health.

Here is a news video about the shortages and how CHKD will be receiving a shipment of TPN from Europe very soon.

Whatever the case - be it distribution issues, suspension of manufacture, nutrients being a low profit item, blocking importation (which thank goodness the FDA recently changed) or celebrities using vitamin drips containing these precious nutrients, something more has to be done to get these nutrients where they should be - saving our precious preemies. We have to get to the bottom of the problem, continue to raise awareness about this national emergency, and figure out a solution.

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