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Europe's hospitals running out of ICU meds for COVID-19

London — Nine leading European university hospitals are warning they will run out of essential medicines needed for COVID-19 patients in intensive care in less than two weeks as they are increasingly crushed by the pandemic.

The European University Hospital Alliance said that without countries cooperating to ensure a steady supply of these drugs, doctors and nurses might no longer be able to provide adequate intensive care for people critically ill with the new coronavirus.

In a statement published this week and sent to national governments, the group said that aside from the need for protective gear and ventilators, “the most urgent need now is for the drugs that are necessary for intensive care patients.” They wrote that existing stocks of muscle relaxants, sedatives and painkillers were likely to run out in two days in the hardest-hit hospitals, and in two weeks in others.

The shortage has led some hospitals to buy alternative drugs or try other doses on patients.

“It is extremely worrying that overworked and often less-experienced nurses and doctors-in-training, drafted to fill the gaps, have to use products and dosages that they are not used to,” the group wrote, on behalf of hospitals in Austria, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden and Spain.

The hospital group noted that some governments had reacted to the shortages by refusing to export drugs elsewhere, and warned this would prevent drugs from reaching hospitals in dire need of the medicines.

“No single country in Europe has the production facilities to provide all the drugs (or protective gear or ventilators) needed,” they wrote. “Coordinated European action will be of vital importance.”

 

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