The outbreak of COVID-19 has affected the global drug supply chain in a number of ways. Treating patients with severe coronavirus symptoms has driven up demand for the drugs like sedatives, analgesics, and paralytics as more and more COVID-19 patients require ventilation for weeks or months at a time. Shortages in essential drugs obviously make it more difficult to manage the influx of seriously and critically ill COVID-19 patients, but they also divert resources from other patients battling medical problems that require access to these drugs.
COVID-19 is a complex illness that affects different patients in different ways, and there are a number of variables involved in treatment, including the drugs needed to intubate patients, treat infections, and manage symptoms and the progression of disease once a patient becomes symptomatic. Drugs like hydroxychloroquine made headlines in 2020 as a potential breakthrough treatment for COVID-19 patients, but it’s only one in a growing list of drugs that are facing shortages due to the role they play in treating coronavirus infections.
Drugs to manage pain and keep patients comfortable during the intubation process, as well as antibacterial and respiratory drugs, are especially at risk of shortages. However, many of the drugs used to treat COVID-19 are also essential for treating everything from malaria to low blood pressure and lupus. Some of the common drugs facing COVID-19 related shortages in the last year include: