GE unit boosts medical dye output as China COVID lockdown cuts supplies

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, US 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 output of dye used for medical scans and tests at its factory in Ireland and shipped products by air to help combat shortages caused by the suspension of its Shanghai factory.

The steps to boost and speed up deliveries of chemicals used in CT scans, x-rays and radiography highlight the far-reaching impact the city’s prolonged COVID-19 lockdown is having on global manufacturing and supply of critical goods. read more

The news comes after the Greater New York Hospital Assn (GNYHA) warned on May 4 of supply shortages of GE Healthcare’s iodinated contrast media — specifically its Omnipaque products made in Shanghai.

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“We are working around the clock to expand capacity of our iodinated contrast media products,” a spokesperson said after the company had to close its Shanghai facility for several weeks due to local COVID-19 policies.

It has now reopened, but the plant is not yet operating at full capacity.

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

In addition to increasing output at its Cork, Ireland facility to help resolve the US shortages, it has also flown product from Cork and Shanghai to the United States, rather than ship by sea to accelerate delivery, the company said. It did not give details on the increase in capacity or what extra costs it had incurred due to the measures.

The New York hospital association said an 80% cut in supplies was expected to last for the next 6-8 weeks and advised healthcare providers to ration stocks.

Shanghai authorities have tightened a city-wide lockdown imposed more than a month ago on the commercial hub with a population of 25 million, a move that could extend curbs on movement through the month.

GE Healthcare has four contrast media manufacturing facilities, including the one in Shanghai.

A spokesperson for Bayer (BAYGn.DE), which competes with GE Healthcare in contrast media, said he is not facing a similar situation, but he is taking “several measures to help manage the market situation with incremental volumes to support customers and minimise patient” impact”, without elaborating further.

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Reporting by Roxanne Liu in Beijing and Josephine Mason in London; additional reporting by Ludiwg Burger in Frankfurt; editing by David Evans

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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