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Winter 2023 - Critical Care

Many National Healthcare Crises Accentuated by the Pandemic

One challenging issue for healthcare providers is long-COVID, which causes lingering symptoms of the SARS-CoV-2 virus for some individuals with oftentimes devastating effects.

Patrick M. SchmidtThe COVID-19 pandemic created a host of economic and personal hardships in the healthcare arena. Medical staff experienced burnout, exhaustion and trauma that led to staff shortages nationwide, and health systems experienced sharp declines in revenue. For patients, health inequities that have existed for years have been revealed; delayed treatments worsened chronic conditions and resulted in missed diagnoses; and many lost employer-sponsored health insurance. But, there are upsides to this pandemic: By accentuating many national healthcare crises that have been in the making for decades, solutions could be on the horizon.

For instance, one challenging issue for healthcare providers is long-COVID, which causes lingering symptoms of the SARS-CoV-2 virus for some individuals with oftentimes devastating effects. But these types of lingering symptoms are not new; they share a strong similarity to other post-acute infection syndromes (PAISs) that have long been a mystery. As we explore in our article “Long COVID: Shedding Light on Other Viral Infections” (p.20), the emergence of long COVID was an “aha” moment, especially relating to myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) that was often dismissed as a problem that was “all in one’s head.” In fact, it has historically been believed that once an infection is cleared, symptoms can’t persist. However, now that it is known that the SARS-CoV-2 virus can cause long-term symptoms, researchers are reexamining other viral infections such as ME/CFS to determine the validity of PAISs. It is hoped that this will result in treatments for patients who have been ignored for too long.

Another crisis brought to the forefront during the pandemic is the troubling mental health crisis faced by children. Our article “Addressing the Mental Health Crisis in Children” (p.24) points out that while data show one in five children experienced an episode of major depression between 2013 and 2019, the issue is only now being acknowledged after signs of mental distress emerged when children returned to the classroom — a problem that continues to escalate. Incidents include fights among students, violence against school staff and students harming themselves. In response, public health officials are finally calling for a national agenda to address mental health issues in children both in and out of the classroom.

Finally, while drug shortages are nothing new, they became a national issue during the pandemic due to unprecedented demand by large numbers of critically ill patients with COVID-19. As we highlight in our article “How FDA’s Risk Management Program Can Help Prevent or Lessen Future Drug Shortages” (p.28), the high price of drugs during shortages affect patients (especially those with rare diseases), providers and payers. Fortunately, the attention paid to this issue during the pandemic resulted in a U.S. Food and Drug Administration risk management program (RMP) guidance document to combat future drug shortages. In addition, Congress enacted the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act requiring redundancy RMPs for certain lifesaving or life-sustaining drugs.

As always, we hope you enjoy the additional articles in this issue of BioSupply Trends Quarterly, and find them both relevant and helpful to your practice.

Helping Healthcare Care,

Patrick M. Schmidt

Patrick M. Schmidt
Patrick M. Schmidt is the publisher of BioSupply Trends Quarterly magazine.