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Drug Shortages Threatening Patient Care | NEWS-Line for Healthcare Professionals

Drug Shortages Threatening Patient Care


A shortage of local anesthetics is threatening patient care and has significant implications for the opioid crisis. ASRA will address this shortage during a late-breaking session held in conjunction with the 2018 World Congress on Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine.

Even minor surgical procedures can lead to long-term opioid use. Regional anesthesia, especially with continuous peripheral nerve block (CPNB) techniques, has been shown repeatedly to reduce patients’ need for opioid analgesia.

Now, this care is threatened with ongoing local anesthetic drug shortages around the world. Local anesthetics or “numbing medications” represent a class of drugs that is one of the strongest weapons against opioids. These drugs (e.g., bupivacaine, lidocaine, ropivacaine) are currently in shortage. Targeted injections of local anesthetic in the form of regional anesthesia eliminate sensation at the site of surgery and can obviate the need for injectable opioids (e.g., fentanyl, hydromorphone, morphine), which also happen to be in short supply.

The potential for decreased perioperative pain control, increased postoperative complications, and increased health costs make the local anesthetic shortages a signficant threat to health care.

ASRA is offering a late-breaking session for attendees to discuss their challenges and identify strategies to address these shortages in their practices. "A Conversation with ASRA about Analgesic Drug Shortages" will be held on Saturday, April 21, at 11:30 am in the O'Neill Room, 4th floor, of the Marriott Marquis Times Square.

The session has no formal agenda but, rather, offers an opportunity for attendees to discuss the issue and develop a plan for moving forward. Dr. Edward R. Mariano will moderate the session. Dr. Mariano is chief of the Anesthesiology and Perioperative Care Service and associate chief of staff for inpatient surgical services at VA Palo Alto Health Care System and a professor of anesthesiology, perioperative, and pain medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine.

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