Bachem produces sedative around the clock as demand soars

May 26, 2020

Switzerland’s Bachem has shifted to 24/7 production of Propofol as global demand from coronavirus patients skyrockets.

Propofol, a 43-year-old drug, is being used to sedate COVID-19 patients that need to go on a ventilator. In order to meet rising global demand, the company said it is now staffing production lines for the drug around the clock, seven days a week. Bachem’s CEO said the company could also expand production facilities in the near future to ensure that the company can keep up with orders for the drug.

The threat of drug shortages caused by disrupted supply chains and sudden, rising demand for certain medications has loomed large over the industry since the outbreak began. In particular, concerns have risen over shortages for basic intensive-care hospital drugs such as pain killers and sedatives, especially in coronavirus “hot spots.”

The New Jersey Hospital Association, for example, reported in late April that its hospitals have begun experiencing shortages for fentanyl, Propofol and cisatracurium, a muscle relaxer.  

Making matters worse, many of these basic hospital drugs were already on the brink of going into shortage because of the slim profit margins associated with production.

The FDA has reportedly been in talks with a number of pharma manufacturers of key hospital drugs to encourage the industry to ramp up production amid the ongoing pandemic. 

Read the full Reuters report.