France warding off shortages of essential drugs

Police officers checks their phones as they walk on Trocadero plaza during a nationwide confinement to counter the new coronavirus, in Paris, Thursday, April 2,For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. Eiffel Tower in the background.

France’s prime minister says he and his government colleagues are “fighting hour by hour” to ward off shortages of essential drugs used to keep COVID-19 patients alive in intensive care.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said that worldwide usage of essential drugs and disposable equipment, such as ventilator mouthpieces, used by intensive care units is “exploding in unimaginable proportions,” with a “nearly 2,000% increase” in demand “because it is happening everywhere in the world and at the same time.”

In France, medics have identified eight drugs, in particular, that are essential for ICUs to keep treating the waves of gravely ill COVID-19 patients who need breathing assistance and other forms of life support, he said, speaking to broadcaster TF1 on Thursday night. Those drugs include painkillers and sedatives.

Philippe said France has sufficient stocks of some of the key ICU drugs but “more limited” quantities of others, causing “real” worry for medics. Philippe said he, French President Emmanuel Macron and their finance minister have been calling producers to identify supply bottlenecks and source more of these drugs. “We are fighting hour by hour to respond to this unheard-of increase in usage,” he said.

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