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Limited Contrast

A shortage of contrast dye is leading some hospitals to limit some imaging so there is enough on hand for emergency cases, the New York Times reports.

Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal reported that COVID-19-related lockdowns in China had affected a GE Healthcare plant in Shanghai that makes Omnipaque, a contrast agent. Contrast, it noted, makes blood vessels and organs more visible when imaged by CT scan, for instance. But as the plant was closed for weeks, the Journal noted that many hospitals in the US had gotten low on inventory. In mid-May, GE told the Journal that the plant had re-opened at half-capacity and had shifted production to other plants and now tells the Times the Shanghai plant is at 60 percent capacity.

The shortage, Matthew Davenport, from American College of Radiology and Michigan Medicine, tells the Times, is analogous to that of infant formula, as both products have a limited number of suppliers.

"We need to figure out how to really create a much more robust, not as lean, supply system that has some give to it," Nancy Foster from the trade group the American Hospital Association adds at the Times.