Being resourceful amid a nationwide epinephrine shortage

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Epinephrine. (Credit: WINK News)
Epinephrine. (Credit: WINK News)

The drug shortage crisis is only getting worse.

“It’s becoming that somebody can get a hold of illegal drugs quicker than you can actually get a hold of drugs that saves your lives?” said Jorge Aguilera, chief of North Collier Fire Dept. “How do you explain that? I don’t know.”

You will now find epinephrine on the Food and Drug Administration’s lengthy shortage list. North Collier Fire Dept. has enough of it for the short term. But it is training staff on a workaround for when they run out.

They are learning to mix medicine to make the drug in the back of their truck.

“You always wonder did you get the exact concentration that you would get when the syringes come from the manufacturer already pre-filled pre-concentrated,” Aguilera said.

A paramedic showed WINK News the difference.

When you have the drug from the manufacturer, it is as easy as pulling two pieces out. Popping off the tops and snapping them together takes about 15 seconds. Then, he showed WINK News the nearly seven-step process to mix the medicine, which takes three times as long.

“This is given when somebody is not breathing and has no pulse,” Aguilera said. “They’re dead. So when we’re giving this is to help us in the evolution to resuscitate someone.”

North Collier Fire Dept. said imagine when the medicine they use to mix epinephrine goes out, too. It is not an inconvenience; it is a severe problem.

“It’s extraordinarily disappointing that in the United States of America the land of the plenty, we can’t get something that we’ve had for over 40 years to save somebody’s life,” Aguilera said. “It just doesn’t make sense.”

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