Boston hospitals running low on opioids

Officials said the hospitals are at a “critical point” of scrambling to find alternatives for injectable forms of fentanyl, morphine and hydromorphone

By EMS1 Staff

BOSTON —Boston hospital officials said they are scrambling to find alternatives to their low supply of injectable opioids while facing a shortage of medication.

Boston Herald reported that health facilities are searching for alternatives to three injectable forms of opioids: fentanyl, morphine and hydromorphone.

“We started seeing an impact on supply back in June, but it’s progressively gotten tighter,” Christopher Fortier, Massachusetts General Hospital chief pharmacy officer, said. “We’re at a critical point across the country with this.

Fortier said that although the DEA’s new regulations are meant to curb the nationwide opioid epidemic, they are preventing manufacturers from producing the necessary amount to properly treat patients.

“The issue right now is what we call the aggregate production quota,” Fortier said. “The DEA has not allowed them to increase their production of these products.”

The American Hospital Association recently asked the DEA in a letter to address the issue with less strict regulations.

“We’re not at the middle part of March yet, and my concern has always been I’ve never seen a manufacturer hit a time frame,” Fortier said about Pfizer’s commitment to having more available product in April. “I think we’re going to be in this for a little bit more here.”

Brigham and Women’s Hospital associate chief medical officer Dr. Charles Morris said the staff is working to ensure patients are not affected by the shortage, including tracking shipments and convening a crisis team to address the issue.

“Broadly speaking, there are options we can explore from therapy to non-opiates,” he said. “And lastly, there are other opiates we can use as opposed to intravenous preparation.”

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