Hospitals affected by neonatal drug shortage

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by Lucy Bustamante, 13News

WVEC.com

Posted on May 31, 2013 at 3:23 PM

Updated Friday, May 31 at 5:41 PM

NORFOLK -- A shortage of a critical intravenous drug used to nourish premature infants is affecting hospitals nationwide, according to the FDA.

Annie Greig had twin boy's born prematurely that needed the drug until they were able to transition to her breast milk.  One son remains on oxygen, while his twin brother is still a patient at the Children's Hospital of the King's Daughter's neonatal intensive care unit.

Greig says she can't imagine having to worry about the drug shortage. "There are so many other things to worry about while you're in that room. Mothers should not have to worry about that," said Greig.

The Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday that new supplies of drugs used in total parenteral nutrition, a ubiquitous hospital staple, will be available to U.S. patients this week because federal health regulators are allowing imports from overseas. 

The injectable formula is used to feed newborn infants, cancer patients and other vulnerable groups who are unable to eat or drink by mouth. 

Dr. Jamil Kahn is the director of the neonatal intensive care unit at CHKD and says the government is learning that in order to prevail in this situation, they must allow shipments from other countries deemed safe by FDA inspectors.

One of the shipments will arrive at CHKD this week.  The nutritional compound will then be turned into what is called "TPN" at the compounding pharmacy inside of CHKD.

Last year CHKD enrolled in a breast milk donor program.  Dr. Khan says this program allows their infants to transition off of TPN and onto breast milk faster.
 

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