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Another flu epidemic-driven supply chain failure: Test kits

Posted on Thursday, January 25, 2018 at 02:00PM by Registered CommenterScott McPherson | CommentsPost a Comment

My return to flu blogging last week was about the nationwide shortage of IV bags for flu patients (and everyone else who needs an IV bag).

Now, we are seeing spot shortages nationally of flu test kits.  You know, the ones that go down your nose all the way to Belize. Even though their effectiveness has been the subject of much debate, it is generally said that these kits are better than no tests at all. 

Northeast Florida is running out of test kits. The Channel 4 Jacksonville story includes this segment:

"Oceanway Medical Center’s Diana Medina said there’s so much demand that the kits are on back order and clinics have to conserve their supplies.

"“We have to make sure before we are just running all these tests on every single patient that comes in with a runny nose,” Medina said. “We swab the patient’s nose on both sides and then we send it off to the lab and within 15 minutes we have a result.”"


Pittsburgh-area doctors and hospitals are running out of test kits. http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2018/01/24/flu-season-supplies-shortage/

And now flu season (along with bomb cyclones) is/are being blamed for shortages of blood donations in the Northeast.  New England Public Radio has the story.

All of these have the same issue:  Serious misunderestimation (thanks, W) of the effects of flu upon the entire supply chain, but especially the flu supply chain. 

There is good news:  The FDA has taken steps to permanently allow the importation of saline IV bags from outside the US.  The Reuters story is here.

Unfortunately, it will take weeks to get this new product into the supply chain.  We still don't know why it took so bloody long for institutions to take action between when the alarm bells were sounded in October by Dr. Mike Osterholm and others (see last week's blog), and now.  Again, saline bags are on the way.  Hopefully, in time.


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