Last week, there were 90 entries on the list: antibiotics, drugs for anesthesia, compounds to light up veins and organs for imaging, immunosuppressives to prevent organ rejection, tube-feeding solutions, sedatives.

Missing IV bags and missing pharmaceuticals seem like unrelated problems, a temporary disruption layered on top of a longstanding problem.

If a single hurricane can break one of those chains, undermining the delivery of medical supplies that Americans need every day, imagine the impact of a border-crossing epidemic or a regional military conflict or a natural disaster like the volcanic eruption that shut down most of Europe’s airspace in 2010.

“My wife’s nurse had to stand for 30 mins and administer a drug slowly through a syringe because there are almost no IV bags in the continental US anymore,” Ben Boyer, a former TV executive who lives in San Diego and whose wife is undergoing chemotherapy for brain cancer, tweeted on December 28.

Four-fifths of the active ingredients in American pharmaceuticals come from somewhere else, mostly India and China.

Supply shocks make us vulnerable.”

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