Louisville pharmacies still feeling effects of Hurricane Maria

Louisville pharmacies still feeling effects of Hurricane Maria

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Doctors and pharmacists in WAVE Country are feeling the effects of Hurricane Maria, months after the storm hit Puerto Rico.

Last fall after Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico, the medical community in Louisville and across the country knew shortages of drugs and medical devices would be coming.

Puerto Rico is the site of around 80 plants that make top prescription drugs.

One issue in Louisville is a drug shortage. Last fall, after Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico, the medical community in Louisville and across the country knew shortages of drugs and medical devices would be coming.

"We're seeing shortages ranging from children's medication for ADHD, arthritis, cholesterol medication," Director of Pharmacy Services for St. Matthews Community Pharmacy Pharmacist Chris Harlow said.

Thirteen of the best-selling drug brands are made at facilities in Puerto Rico, one of the world's largest manufacturer of pharmaceuticals and medical devices.

"We are starting to really see the impact now because there's obviously been a delay in the time," Harlow said. "There are a lot of stockpiles of the medication at wholesalers, but now we're starting to see the true shortages."

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A shortage of IV bags due to the hurricane has been an issue at hospitals around the country.

Both University of Louisville Hospital and the James Graham Brown Cancer Center said they are handling the IV bag shortage, and that no procedures or treatments have been canceled or delayed.

"Any time you see more patients, especially with flu like symptoms where they could be dehydrated, you need more IV fluids because the IV fluids are limited that means they are not able to give as many out as they like," NBC Medical Correspondent Dr. John Torres said.

The shortages in IV bags and mini-bags made in Puerto Rico became a problem when 46 states reported widespread flu outbreaks.

Patients with the flu are dehydrated and need more IV fluids, which requires more IV bags. Hospitals like UofL are managing the IV bag issue, but Maria's effects are still being felt in many ways at hospitals, doctor's offices and pharmacies.

St. Matthews Community Pharmacy will check with other pharmacies for their clients to see where a drug is available if they don't have it. They're also reaching out to physicians to see if alternative drugs may be an option.

Baxter, the leading producer of IV saline fluids told the FDA all its Puerto Rico facilities are back on the commercial power grid, other companies that had drugs considered at risk are also back on.

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