U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer is hoping to use his influence to expedite delivery of a sterilization product used by hospitals. The senator was called by central New York hospitals to help deal with the shortage of the material used to sterilize equipment used in surgery.
Upstate Medical Center, Crouse and St. Joseph’s Hospitals have all been experiencing a shortage of a product called Biologic, a chemical used to sterilize equipment for surgery. Most of this material is made by one company, Advanced Sterilization Products, and hospitals need to have a certain amount on hand. There have been problems with deliveries in recent months, according to the central New York hospitals.
Upstate Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anthony Weiss, says it’s always a concern when there is a hiccup in the supply of not just drugs, but non-pharmaceutical supplies like this.
“I want to assure people that this has not been a situation where we’ve been without this, or have had to cut corners," Weiss said. "That said, that’s required very careful supply chain management, and it’s put pressure on our folks to be able to make sure that we have the products we need to safely provide surgery to patients, and I think that that’s been true at the other hospitals in the area as well.”
Weiss says the product is something that needs to be available in large amounts, in the case of a catastrophe.
“We here at Upstate and the other hospitals in this region are very interested in disaster preparedness as is the entire state of New York, and we want to make sure we are well prepared for any potential uncertainty,” Weiss explained.
Schumer is doing two things to help. First, he’s asking the company to expedite shipment to Syracuse-area hospitals.
“This is as essential as a drug because it cleans, it sterilizes certain equipment in a thorough and careful way," Schumer said. "But it’s just as damaging as when you don’t have a drug.”
The senator is also asking the Food and Drug Administration to set up a protocol for potential shortages in non-pharmaceutical supplies, the same thing it does for drug shortages.
"It is up to company’s like A.S.P. to voluntarily report shortages or disruptions in their supply chains. And that is not good enough," Schumer said. "The FDA should start requiring companies to report major disruptions, especially companies like A.S.P. that are a monopoly, because it means there’s no alternative.”