Sodium bicarbonate drug shortage update

June 21, 2017

Dr. Francois Belanger, Vice President, Quality and Chief Medical Officer, provided the following update today regarding the global drug shortage of sodium bicarbonate, which is commonly used in life-threatening situations including surgery when the blood becomes too acidic.

“Alberta Health Services does everything possible to minimize patient impacts from drug shortages. Effective and safe treatment is our first priority.

“Like other jurisdictions in North America, we continue to face a global shortage of sodium bicarbonate injection. This drug shortage is not isolated to Alberta.

“AHS continues to take action to mitigate the effects of this shortage. Actions include: implementing strict criteria for use and an approval process; exploring alternate supply sources of sodium bicarbonate; working to carefully prioritize procedures, choose alternative treatments and utilize current stock for the most urgent cases, and; working with physicians and clinicians to provide them with the latest information on affected drugs, as well as alternatives and other options.

“These mitigation measures are working. Currently, our supply of sodium bicarbonate vials is expected to last for another nine to 10 days. We are optimistic that other strategies being put in place will extend our emergency use supplies by several additional weeks.

“We are not dealing with this shortage alone. AHS continues to work with Health Canada, both directly and through the pan-Canadian Provincial/Territorial Drug Shortage Task Team, to confirm timelines of when manufacturing of the drug will recommence and to evaluate off-shore supply options.

“I want to acknowledge physicians and staff from across the province, who have worked hard to ensure we can maintain a supply for critical uses. To our knowledge there has not been impact to patients; those who have needed the drug have received it.”


For media inquiries, contact:

Haydon Dewes
AHS Communications

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