GE unit ramps up production of medical colorants as China’s COVID lockdown cuts supplies

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Completed GE digital anesthesia care stations are seen at a GE Healthcare manufacturing facility during the global coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Madison, Wisconsin, U.S., April 21, 2020. REUTERS/Daniel Acker

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BEIJING/LONDON, May 10 (Reuters) – General Electric’s (GE.N) healthcare unit said on Tuesday it had increased production of dyes used for medical analysis and testing at its plant in Ireland and shipped products by air to help tackle shortages caused by the suspension of its Shanghai factory.

Measures to boost and expedite deliveries of chemicals used in CT scans, X-rays and X-rays highlight the far-reaching impact the city’s prolonged COVID-19 lockdown is having on manufacturing and supply world of essential goods. Read more

Some of the largest US hospitals said on Tuesday they were facing critical shortages of iodinated contrast media.

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The Cleveland Clinic in Ohio; Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, Calif., Mayo Clinic, based in Rochester, Minn., and Providence in Renton, Wash., all said in statements they were taking steps to secure supply as much as possible and conserve use.

A spokesperson for Providence told Reuters that GE’s production in Ireland would only cover around 20% of normal supply to all customers until the end of June, adding that most of the US supply came from Shanghai.

The Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA) warned on May 4 of temporary supply shortages of GE Healthcare’s iodinated contrast media – particularly its Shanghai-made Omnipaque products.

“We are working around the clock to increase the capacity of our iodinated contrast media,” a GE spokesperson said after the company had to shut down its Shanghai plant for several weeks due to local COVID policies.

It has now reopened, but is not yet fully operational.

“We are working to return to full capacity as soon as local authorities allow it,” the spokesperson said.

In addition to increasing production at its plant in Cork, Ireland, to help solve shortages in the United States, GE has transported products from Cork and Shanghai to the United States, rather than shipping them by road. shipping to expedite delivery, the company said. It did not give details of the increased capacity or the additional costs it incurred as a result of the measures.

GNYHA said an 80% reduction in supplies is expected to last the next 6-8 weeks and advised healthcare providers to ration supplies.

Providence said it is prioritizing existing supply for critical cases such as stroke, trauma, acute aortic syndrome, cancer new diagnosis (staging), pulmonary embolism and syndrome acute coronary.

Shanghai authorities have tightened a citywide lockdown imposed more than a month ago on the mall with a population of 25million, a move that could prolong restrictions on movement throughout of the month.

GE Healthcare has four contrast medium manufacturing plants, including the one in Shanghai.

A spokesperson for Bayer (BAYGn.DE), which competes with GE Healthcare in contrast media, said it did not face a similar situation. Bayer was taking “several steps to help manage the market situation with additional volumes to support customers and minimize patient impact,” the spokesperson said, without giving further details.

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Reporting by Roxanne Liu in Beijing and Josephine Mason in London; additional reporting by Ludiwg Burger in Frankfurt and Ahmed Aboulenein in Washington; edited by David Evans and Bill Berkrot

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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