FDA creates first-ever medical supply shortage list including masks, swabs and ventilators

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on Friday that it has created its first list of medical supplies that are facing a shortage just hours after President Trump touted the administration’s production of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other devices.

In an effort to prevent stockpiling or hoarding of supplies, the list does not reveal the product manufacturers, but lists that ventilators, respirators, masks, surgical gowns, gloves and sterile swabs are on short supply. 

According to a spokesperson from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) the list is meant to help the industry prevent supply disruption in the midst of the pandemic. 

“Under President Trump’s leadership, the federal government has taken great strides to meet the nation’s critical medical supply needs, and at this time, all requests have been filled or are being filled, while additional requests from states are minimal,” an HHS spokesperson said in a statement. 

“The FDA provided a device shortage list as part of the implementation of section 506J of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, signed into law as part of the CARES Act. Under section 506J, manufacturers of certain devices must notify the FDA of an interruption or permanent discontinuance in manufacturing,” the statement continued. “The shortage list was never intended to indicate there is a shortage of PPE or equipment to support patients, but allows for transparency to the public and stakeholders about devices.”

The new list comes as cases of COVID-19 see spikes nationwide and record-breaking counts are reported weekly in different states. 

This week the U.S. saw its deadliest day in months as more than 1,500 died of the coronavirus on Wednesday, with the total deaths as of Friday topping 168,000, according to Johns Hopkins University. In total, there are more than 5.2 million coronavirus cases in the U.S.

Earlier at a press briefing on Friday, Trump praised the work to increase the Strategic National Stockpile’s supply of some of the products that made the FDA list.

“We have tripled the number of N95 masks on hand to over 40 million, tripled the number of gowns to over 15 million and quadrupled the number of ventilators to 69,000,” Trump said.

PPE supply shortages were commonly reported at the start of the virus, but lockdown efforts and the administration’s use of the Defense Production Act led to a slowdown of hospitalizations and an increase in crucial supplies. Still, some rural hospitals and other health care groups have said they have struggled to keep key supplies in stock.

In early July, a top nurses union warned that the start of new outbreaks could mean more shortages like the ones seen at the start of the pandemic.

“We’re five months into this and there are still shortages of gowns, hair covers, shoe covers, masks, N95 masks,” Deborah Burger, president of National Nurses United, said at the time. “I think overall, production, distribution and access has improved … the fear is that we will become complacent.”

Updated Tuesday Aug. 18

Tags Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic in the United States Donald Trump FDA list medical PPE shortages Shortages related to the COVID-19 pandemic supplies
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