FDA expects IV fluid shortage to improve in coming weeks, months

(Reuters) - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Tuesday it expects a shortage of intravenous saline fluids for hospitals due to damage to key manufacturing facilities in Puerto Rico to improve over the coming weeks and months.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said that the FDA has approved IV saline products from more companies, which is expected to boost U.S. supply. He said the tight supply of saline products had been exacerbated by increased demand as a result of a worse-than-normal flu season.

At the same time, Gottlieb said the agency is concerned about a potential shortage of IV containers as demand for empty IV containers increases as an alternative to filled bags.

“We understand that, with the shortage of filled bags, hospitals and other healthcare providers are turning to the repackaging or compounding of IV saline fluids and utilizing empty IV containers,” he said. “This is resulting in diminished supplies of these containers and concerns that supplies of empty bags could tighten further.”

Reporting by Toni Clarke in Washington; Editing by Susan Thomas