US hospitals are facing a dire shortage of a ubiquitous medical supply

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Nurse prepares a bag of saline at Intermountain Healthcare's Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo

Bags of saline solution—essentially, salt water—are used to administer drugs and costonly $1.50 each. But it is getting increasingly hard for US hospitals to find an adequate supply

Published 47 mins ago  |  Photo by Reuters/George Frey
Nurse prepares a bag of saline at Intermountain Healthcare's Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo

$1.50

Some 740 bags are used in US hospitals every minute.

Nurse prepares a bag of saline at Intermountain Healthcare's Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo

$1.50

A shortage of bags has been going on for years. Drug companies have little incentive to increase production or modernize factories as the product offers very thin profit margins.

Nurse prepares a bag of saline at Intermountain Healthcare's Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo

$1.50

But things have been getting worse, as Hurricane Maria disrupted production at the Puerto Rico factories that make bags for Baxter, the largest US supplier.

Nurse prepares a bag of saline at Intermountain Healthcare's Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo

$1.50

And regulators are examining the quality of bags made by B. Braun Medical, which stands accused of selling leaky and moldy products.

Published 47 mins ago

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