Pharmacy Update: Navigating the Sodium Chloride Shortage

Shortages often occur when supply cannot support the demand. Given the current ever-changing landscape of the pandemic, one thing that remains constant is the need to efficiently and safely manage drug shortages. One of the most recent impactful shortages has involved sodium chloride, which is widely utilized and essential in the healthcare setting. 

Sodium chloride is used to treat hyponatremia and replenish lost salt and water in the body. It is also used as an intravenous solution to help manage metabolic alkalosis and fluid replacement. In addition to its therapeutic uses, sodium chloride is also vital for maintenance of vascular access, and is widely used to reconstitute various pharmaceutical medications.

When dealing with drug shortages, it is important to develop a general process. One component of the process should be to establish communication with the wholesaler on inventory products that are in short supply. Another component would be to examine current usage and develop a safe conservation plan for the shortage item.  The most important part of the process will always be to effectively communicate the mitigation strategy to the interdisciplinary team

When it comes to sodium chloride, there are various recommendations/guidance based on product type to help navigate this shortage. Recommendations have been summarized in the table below.

Unfortunately, drug shortages do not appear to be declining anytime soon. If anything, the current pandemic has created additional situations for drug shortages to occur.  Now more than ever, facilities need to be equipped with impactful information to manage critical drug shortages that may disrupt and impact patient care. Organizations must creatively utilize general strategies and manage conservation of inventory while seeking safe and regulatory compliant alternatives.

References: Accessed January 13, 2022