SPOKANE, Wash --- VERIFY: Will sodium bicarbonate shortage affect local hospitals?

Sodium bicarbonate is the main ingredient in baking soda, it is also found on emergency crash carts, it is used in open-heart surgery and as an antidote to some poisons.

It is an important compound for hospitals and we wanted to know more about the shortage and if we should be concerned. KREM talked to a pharmacy director in Arizona, Anna Sograd, and a Providence Health spokesperson.

There are nationwide shortages of sodium bicarbonate solutions. The injectable solutions are stored on so-called crash carts to save the lives of heart attack victims.

“Sodium bicarbonate is utilized on patients who are critically ill,” said Sograd.

Drug shortages are nothing new, even a few years ago there was a shortage of saline solution, which is essentially salt water. But Sograd said this time is different.

“It is truly one of the shortages that has impacted all of the hospitals across the country in a way we’ve never seen in probably 40 years,” said Sograd.

Many drug companies are getting out of the low-profit business. Only two American firms make sterile sodium bicarbonate solution, and both of them face manufacturing delays.

“We in the industry really need to go back and revisit when companies are allowed to stop making a product should they be in some cases if there is no alternative product,” said Sograd.

The question we had was could this drug shortage put patients’ lives in danger?

A Providence Health spokesperson confirmed they have a very large supply of the drug. Their pharmacy department assured KREM they have enough of the drug to meet the needs of their patients.