Nearly all hospitals stockpiling drugs to prepare for second COVID-19 surge: survey

Drug prices
A survey from the health services company Premier found a large majority of its members are stockpiling drugs used in the treatment of COVID-19 in preparation for another surge. (Getty/Charles Wollertz)

As the pandemic moves into its fourth month, a new survey of Premier members found 88% of hospitals and health systems are creating a stockpile of medications needed to treat COVID-19 patients.

The survey released Wednesday of nearly 90 health systems comes as facilities are bracing for increases in cases this summer or fall. It also comes after the onset of the pandemic that exposed massive breakdowns in the supply chain for personal protective equipment and pharmaceuticals.

The survey found that 51% are building a safety stock of at least a month and another 25% of at least two months. The most common target for hospitals to stockpile are sedatives and neuromuscular blockers.

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Premier found that 92% of hospitals are building a safety stock of sedatives such as midazolam and propofol. Another 88% of hospitals are stockpiling controlled substances that include fentanyl and morphine.

“Nearly three-quarters (72%) of respondents say they will pay for added safety stock out of their existing pharmacy budgets, while 28% say additional funds will be allocated to manage the expense,” Premier said in a release.

Premier said it didn’t ask why hospitals are building stock, but early troubles accessing the Strategic National Stockpile could be part of the reason.

“Not only did the Strategic National Stockpile run out of products in early April, but the federal government has repeatedly stated any products it does have are not intended for use by states or individual hospitals in those states,” Premier said.

So hospitals got a message that they are on their own in making stockpiles.

Premier recommended that the federal stockpile move away from a central repository of goods to a “coordinated hub-and-spoke model made up of federal resources linked to state and local resources, with an emphasis on collaboration between all those maintaining inventories.”

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