By Alex Fees
Chesterfield, MO (KSDK) - Monarch Fire Protection District officials say they are feeling a drug shortage that is also impacting emergency responders across the nation.
Officials at St. Louis University Hospital say this drug shortage has been an issue for more than 18 months and physicians have to supplement some of these drugs with other medications.
Monarch Deputy Chief Nick Harper crawled into the back of an ambulance and showed some of the drugs they are talking about.
They include dextrose, which is simple sugar for diabetics; dopamine and lidocaine for cardiac arrythmia; epinephrine, used in cardiac arrest; atropine sulfate, used to increase heart rate; etomidate for head injuries; and furosemide for congestive heart failure.
"We've been given permission by our medical control directors to use some medications past the expiration date, typically no more than 30 days, which is not a problem. Third World countries use the medications months and months past, but we have a higher standard of care, so we typically stop at the expiration date," said Harper.
St. Louis University Hospital officials say the state advisory council on EMS has discussed this issue within the past year.
Officials at the CDC and the FDA have websites dedicated to this topic. FDA officials say the reason for such drug shortages is quality, manufacturing issues and a shortage of raw materials. Some people speculate is it also related to profits.
Harper said whatever the cause of the drug shortage, it needs the attention of lawmakers.
"Congress has been made aware of it," he said, "and I hope they are willing to do what it takes to make sure that at least the first-responders and critical personnel are given the tools they need."