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HEALTH: Nitroglycerin shortage

Hospitals across the country are facing a shortage of nitroglycerin.
The drug is considered an emergency room staple.
It's widely used on heart attack patients to open up blood vessels and improve blood flow.
This drug is considered to be a life-saver.

Gavino Garza
Pharmacy Director
"It's a critical drug we need to have in the hospital it's a drug that's a standard of care. It's a drug we use for someone coming in with a heart attack and for open heart."

It's helps open up the vessels and increase blood flowing to the heart.
Gavino Garza is the pharmacy director at the Doctors Hospital at Renaissance. He says the quantity of injectable nitroglycerin has really taken a dive as of late, the hospital has about one third of the supply it used to carry.

Baxter International is currently the lone supplier of the necessary drug..
"The market used to have 3 manufacturers now it's one manufacturer- that's the reason this is occurring."

"It's considered liquid gold for most emergency rooms in hospitals and right now the remaining manufacturer of this drug is having a difficult time keeping up with demand. Part of the reason is for its packaging."

Garza says the drug must be placed in glass bottles and while there may be enough of nitroglycerin to go around.  The company is struggling to obtain mass quantities of packaging components like bottles and stoppers.

While Baxter International is trying to distribute the necessary drug equally amongst hospitals *nationwide....

Garza say the shortage is a concern, but not a reason to cause alarm.
"We try to use a little more due diligence to make sure the product is appropriately discontinue when we can if the patient is stable, keep the nitroglycerin in the emergency room."

It's why the hospital is also making use of alternatives such as tablets or patches. The hospital said it is readily able treat patients as it still has injectable nitroglycerin on hand, it just does not as many bottles on hand as it would like.

Manufacturers say that over the next few months.  They should be able to better accommodate the demand for injectable nitroglycerin.
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