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July 2018

The Shortage of Normal Saline in the Wake of Hurricane Maria

Author Affiliations
  • 1Program on Regulation, Therapeutics, and Law (PORTAL), Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
  • 3Clinician Scientist Training Program, Department of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
JAMA Intern Med. 2018;178(7):885-886. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.1936

On September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico. In the wake of this devastating storm, more than 1000 people died and tens of thousands were displaced from their homes.1 In early 2018, one-third of Puerto Rico remained without electricity. Before the hurricane crippled infrastructure and created a humanitarian crisis, 33% of Puerto Rico’s gross domestic product came from its pharmaceutical sector, with approximately 50 firms producing medications and 40 making medical devices.2 The multifaceted response by both the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and hospital systems to the ongoing national shortage of normal saline makes clear how a storm hitting 1000 miles off Florida’s coast can affect public health across the United States.

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