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Major IV drip producer unlikely to resume production soon: TFDA

06/12/2024 09:24 PM
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The first shipment of 100,000 bags of saline from Malaysia. Photo courtesy of Food and Drug Administration June 12, 2024
The first shipment of 100,000 bags of saline from Malaysia. Photo courtesy of Food and Drug Administration June 12, 2024

Taipei, June 12 (CNA) Taiwan's shortage of intravenous (IV) fluid looks set to continue for at least several months, after officials announced Wednesday that the country's largest producer was unlikely to resume production before next year.

The Taiwan Food and Drug Administration (TFDA) found Y F Chemical Corp., which makes around 70 percent of Taiwan's IV fluid, to be in violation of 63 minor, moderate, or severe regulations during inspections earlier this year, and ordered the firm to halt production on May 10.

Asked at a press conference Wednesday if the company would not be permitted to resume production before the end of this year, TFDA Director-General Wu Shou-mei (吳秀梅) replied: "It seems so."

"These deficiencies must all be corrected before we allow them to resume production," Wu said, adding that the inspectors will conduct a re-inspection on the implementation of the corrections, including a review of the company's software, hardware, personnel training and operations.

The shutdown of Y F Chemical Corp.'s operations has already begun to place a severe strain on IV fluid supplies. On May 18, the Federation of Taiwan Pharmacists Associations warned that major hospitals could be forced to postpone surgeries and stop admitting patients if more is not done to address the shortfall.

The company had been producing large-bag saline for injection at a rate equivalent to 1.96 million bags per month, based on a volume of 500 cc per bag, according to the TFDA.

It is estimated that stocks of that type of IV fluid will run out around mid-June, resulting in a shortage of 1.1 million bags in June and 1.5 million bags starting in July, the Ministry of Health and Welfare has previously said.

To address the domestic shortage of IV fluid in Taiwan, the TFDA initiated an emergency scheme to import saline from overseas on May 29.

The first shipment of 100,000 bags of saline -- based on a volume of 500 cc per bag -- from Malaysia is currently en route and will arrive at the Port of Taipei on Wednesday evening, while the second shipment of 216,000 bags of saline from Vietnam is expected to arrive in Taiwan on June 15, according to Deputy Health Minister Lin Ching-yi (林靜儀).

As shipments of saline will arrive continuously starting this week, announcements will be made whenever new shipments are loaded, Lin said.

Meanwhile, six local companies are working to increase the domestic production capacity of saline, Wu added.

(By Sunny Lai)

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