When Mother Nature struck through Hurricane Maria, the immediate concern was its toll on human life and destruction of the infrastructure. Three months later, another effect with widespread implications is being felt. This is in the mainland U.S.A – far away from Puerto Rico. The health sector is dealing with an IV bag shortage. From the look of things, this problem is likely to stretch on for an undefined period. As things stand, it could be for quite a while. Why?
Puerto Rico is known for her favorable tax breaks. This has lured many medical related manufacturing companies to the Island. For example, majority of the IV bags used in the U.S healthcare system are made in this island. When the hurricane struck, production of the bags was severely affected which led to a great and an ongoing shortage in the U.S.
Why the problem could stretch on
There are many reasons why the IV bags shortage isn’t going anywhere soon. Some of these include:
- The hurricane’s destruction was extensive and the island’s recovery is slow.
- Many pharmaceutical companies in the island are operating far below their full capacity.
- There is no coordination between pharmaceutical manufacturers and government regulatory bodies such as the FDA. As such, there are no preemptive measures to counteract problems in the sector such as those created by Hurricane Maria.
- What pharmaceutical companies produce in Puerto Rico is uncontrolled. This has led to a situation whereby a company may be the only one producing a certain medical product. When such a company is affected, a serious shortage like the one of IV bags can follow.
- Systems maintenance is usually carried out towards the end of the year. This might lead to worsening of an already bad situation in the IV bags and other pharmaceutical products.
All these factors indicate that long-term measures should be set in place to avoid similar situations when factories are destroyed through acts of nature or are closed for other reason.
Effects on the consumer
With the shortage of IV bags, the laws of economics set in. The demand is high but the supply is low and unreliable. This has contributed to a sharp rise in the cost of these bags. For example, at our company –Sarasota IV Lounge, our need for IV bags is huge. We need the bags to package IV nutritional products for our clients. All along, we have been able to package these health products at a modest price. However, since the devastation in Puerto Rico by the hurricane, we can no longer readily get the IV bags. The few we get have a high price mark. Currently, we are spending up to four times more on the bags compared to what we were spending before Hurricane Maria.
What we are doing about the situation
At the Sarasota IV Lounge, we are doing everything possible to meet our clients’ IV nutritional needs. Our commitment, our unmatched quality products, and customer service are not affected. As we wait for higher authorities to take action on the healthcare vulnerabilities exposed by Hurricane Maria, we are looking for alternative sources of IV bags.
Meanwhile, to keep our clients’ IV bags needs met, we have to grapple with the high cost of the bags. This situation has forced us to adjust the prices of our IV nutritional products upwards.
As soon as the situation improves, we will act accordingly.