Fresenius, Baxter act on national dialysis machine, supply shortage during COVID-19 pandemic
Two of the largest manufacturers of products for patients with kidney-related complications, Fresenius Medical Care North America and Baxter International Inc., have responded to the shortage of dialysis machines and supplies that is affecting hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a press release from Fresenius, the company is focusing on the increased demand for dialysis machines by patients with COVID-19 who have developed acute kidney injury. The company stated this demand could increase as much as three to five times compared with usual need.
“During this critical time, the growing number of hospitalized patients in need of renal replacement therapy has put pressure on both equipment, supplies, solutions and nursing support in many hospitals across the country,” Bill Valle, CEO of Fresenius Medical Care North America, said in the release. “We are committed to supporting hospitals with continuous supply, particularly in markets most heavily impacted, so that patients can get the care they need.”
To respond to the crisis posed by the COVID-19 virus, Fresenius has formed a National Intensive Renal Care Reserve, which includes the creation a pool of approximately 150 pieces of equipment that are already located in hospitals across the country. The equipment can be redeployed to other areas as needed within a week’s notice, according to the release. The plan also doubles its tubing set and filter capacity, as well as increases its premixed dialysate fluid capacity by 75%.
In addition to increasing supply and distribution of a variety of products — including its blood purification systems, drug delivery system and IV administration sets and solutions — Baxter is increasing its access to air freight capacity, and frequency of transport, to ensure “critically needed medical devices and medicines” are able to be utilized in the United States and Europe, according to a company press release.
“Our medically essential products put us on the front lines of this pandemic, and our 50,000 colleagues are rising to the challenge to make a meaningful difference for patients,” José E. Almeida, chair and CEO of Baxter, said in the release. “Given that demand is at extraordinary levels, it is critical that we prioritize getting our products where they are most needed – hospitals that are being overwhelmed by an influx of patients who are critically ill from COVID-19.”
Furthermore, according to the release, the Baxter International Foundation is providing more than $2 million in financial support for humanitarian relief organizations, while also expanding employment opportunities (approximately 2,000 new positions globally, and 800 in the United States).
Based on WHO guidelines, Baxter has also put a plan in place to protect the health and safety of its employees. The plan includes enhanced infection control actions, remote working arrangements, restricted travel, symptom screening at building entrances and the use of personal protective equipment.
“The heroic work by health care providers and first responders to care for those with COVID-19 inspires us all,” Almeida said. “We are committed to doing everything we can to support the health care system, our employees and our communities during this unprecedented time.”