Medtech manufacturers have begun responding to some unexpected shortages brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
Demand for kidney dialysis equipment and supplies has jumped in hospitals in COVID-19 hot spots, leading to spot shortages and taking healthcare providers by surprise, as they considered the virus a respiratory disease.
Some patients have begun suffering from kidney failure as well as respiratory distress and need ’round-the-clock dialysis to clean impurities from their blood. A normal dialysis treatment lasts about 4 hours and is done 3 times per week, according to the National Kidney Foundation.
And just as some have had to do with ventilators, healthcare providers have had to decide which COVID-19 patients would benefit the most from dialysis or to provide it for shorter durations to treat more patients, according to published reports.
In response, Fresenius (NYSE:FMS) and Baxter (NYSE:BAX) have announced that they will provide extra kidney dialysis equipment and supplies to hospitals that need them to treat COVID-19 patients. Fresenius Medical Care North America said Friday that it will make about 150 pieces of dialysis equipment ready for rapid deployment to hospitals, and nearly double the volume of consumables available to perform treatments.
Specifically, Fresenius said it would:
- Create a pool of its NxStage critical care units already located in hospitals across the U.S. that could be redeployed to other areas of need with 1 week’s notice.
- Allocate a pool of NxStage System One cyclers, typically used in homes or skilled nursing units, to provide additional equipment for intensive care units.
- Double the company’s tubing set and filter capacity.
- Increase by 75% its premixed dialysate fluid capacity with bagged lactate dialysate solution.
“During this critical time, the growing number of hospitalized patients in need of renal replacement therapy has put pressure on both equipment, supplies, solutions, and nursing support in many hospitals across the country,” said Bill Valle, CEO of Fresenius Medical Care North America, in a news release. “We are committed to supporting hospitals with continuous supply, particularly in markets most heavily impacted, so that patients can get the care they need.”
Baxter said it has boosted its capacity and production of its PrisMax and Prismaflex blood purification systems, along with the solutions and consumables that enable them; its Mini-Bag Plus drug delivery system; the Spectrum IQ Infusion System and accompanying IV administration sets; IV solutions; and injectable drugs used in the ICU and across the hospital.
All Baxter plants that manufacture these products are maximizing production levels and looking for ways to further increase supply, according to the Deerfield, Ill.-based company. Baxter also said it is channeling life-saving products where they are needed the most, based on public health reports. While current customers will continue to have access to products, the company said it will dedicate additional inventory to hospitals around the world with the greatest COVID-19 patient care needs and will update those allocations regularly to reflect the dynamic situation.
Baxter also said it has begun shipping more devices and products needed by COVID-19 patients more frequently between the U.S. and Europe. And the company said it is “aggressively” monitoring the availability of and buying incremental raw materials and components.
“Our medically essential products put us on the front lines of this pandemic, and our 50,000 colleagues are rising to the challenge to make a meaningful difference for patients,” said Baxter CEO Jose Almeida in a separate news release. “Given that demand is at extraordinary levels, it is critical that we prioritize getting our products where they are most needed — hospitals that are being overwhelmed by an influx of patients who are critically ill from COVID-19.”