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Sodium bicarbonate drug shortage mitigation

June 17, 2017

EDMONTON — Alberta Health Services (AHS) is taking steps to minimize patient impacts from a shortage of the drug sodium bicarbonate.

Like other jurisdictions across North America, AHS is facing a shortage of sodium bicarbonate injection, due to a manufacturing issue by producer Hospira Inc., a Pfizer company. The drug is used in critical care and other urgent clinical areas. It is commonly used in life-threatening situations when the blood becomes too acidic.

"Alberta Health Services does everything possible to minimize patient impacts from drug shortages. Effective and safe patient care is always our first priority," says Dr. Francois Belanger, Vice President, Quality and Chief Medical Officer, AHS.

"This is a serious issue and we are working hard to mitigate the effects of the shortage. We are considering all options, and will do all we can to ensure patients receive the best quality care possible."

Actions being taken include:

  • Reserving the drug for use in critical situations, and implementing an approval process before use.
  • Working to carefully prioritize procedures and choose alternative treatments.
  • Working with Health Canada to pursue alternative sources, where possible.
  • Working with physicians and clinicians to provide them with the latest information on affected drugs, as well as alternatives and other options.

AHS is working with Health Canada, both directly and through the pan-Canadian Provincial/Territorial Drug Shortage Task Team, to confirm timelines of when manufacturing of the drug will recommence and to evaluate off-shore supply options.

The shortage – due to manufacturing issues by Hospira Inc. – was made more severe this week by a recall of contaminated vials of sodium bicarbonate due to microbial growth detected during testing.

AHS is tracking use of the drug within its hospitals and will notify patients, and their clinical teams, if there is a possibility that they have been impacted.

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For media inquiries, contact:

Haydon Dewes
AHS Communications
403-918-2290

More Information 

www.ahs.ca/sodiumbicarbonate