Hospitals stock up on COVID-19 drugs to prepare for second wave in fall

U.S. hospitals are stocking up on drugs for treating COVID-19 in an effort to avoid another scramble for critical medications should a second wave of the virus threaten new drug shortages. Hospitals in New York and other areas that faced large numbers of COVID-19 patients earlier this year bought and used large amounts of drugs.

U.S. hospitals are stocking up on drugs for treating COVID-19 in an effort to avoid another scramble for critical medications should a second wave of the virus threaten new drug shortages. Hospitals in New York and other areas that faced large numbers of COVID-19 patients earlier this year bought and used large amounts of drugs. Those purchases siphoned medicines already in short supply from the market, with the result that some preferred drugs became unavailable, or hospitals had to turn to alternatives. "Now it's like, what are we going to do going forward in the future?" said Indu Lew, chief pharmacy officer at RWJBarnabas Health, which operates 11 acute care hospitals in New Jersey. "When we look at a surge, we don't know when it's going to happen, we don't know what factors are going to cause it to happen, and we don't know what our volume will be." About 90% of hospitals and health systems are building safety stocks of about 20 critical medications, according to Premier Inc., one of the nation's largest group-purchasing organizations. Premier says more than 50% are trying to build at least a month's supply of medications. Meanwhile, as providers have become more experienced at treating COVID-19, revising treatment guidelines to reflect new research, they are in some cases relying less on ventilators, reducing the need for related medications.