Fayetteville, N.C. — The COVID lockdown in Shanghai is impacting some medical procedures here in the United States. China is one of the world’s largest producers of CAT scan dye. A supply chain shortage of the dye and of the painkiller lidocaine is forcing hospitals across the country to conserve their supply.
Lidocaine has been around for years. Just about every doctor who performs surgery uses it. Pfizer is a big producer of the drug, but supply chain issues have limited supply, causing hospitals to make some medical adjustments.
Lidocaine works as a local anesthetic, which prevents pain by blocking signals on the skin’s nerve endings. Some dentists, for example, use lidocaine to help numb a patient’s mouth and gums before a procedure. Some over-the-counter medications with lidocaine, such as lidocaine wipes, have been harder to find in some pharmacies.
“It’s just a super-basic rub. It’d be like McDonalds running out of cheeseburgers, basically,” said a doctor who didn’t want to be identified. He says he’s already had to cancel surgeries because he can’t get his hands on lidocaine.
The shortage of lidocaine could impact patients by making medications harder to find – or even delaying procedures.
“It might delay elective procedures, for example, at dental offices. A lot of times those are more elective procedures, outpatient surgery centers. If it because hard to find you might have to delay cases,” says Chris Tart, president of Highsmith Rainey Specialty Hospital.
Hospital administrators think the CAT scan dye shortage may be resolved in about a month, but it may be sometime next year before the supply chain shortage of lidocaine is corrected.