What’s So Special About Normal Saline?

By | March 12, 2014

I’m stumped! Of all the prescriptions I’ve filled over the years living with chronic illness, guess what is the toughest to get my hands on? Pre-filled saline syringes. Yep – you read it right! Normal saline!

These 10 ml syringes don’t even have needles! I use them to “flush the line” of the drain from my gall bladder.

I took the written prescription to Kaiser Permanente, CVS, Walgreen’s, and Kroger pharmacies and was turned away by them all. One pharmacist said that if I had a prescription for a litre of saline, she could fill it; but I’d need to get the syringes elsewhere. Not one pharmacist could give me an explanation as to why they couldn’t/wouldn’t order for me.

I was referred to compound pharmacies and none I spoke with were able to help either.

So then I called a nearby medical supply company and was told that they could be ordered but I’d need a prescription.      “Great!” I said, “I have a prescription!”

The kind man on the phone then said, “Uh oh! We’re not a licensed dispensary so I don’t think we can sell them to you.”

I know there is saline in the nose and eye care section of the pharmacy. Someone suggested that saline for IV use is by prescription only. Are the properties any different? Is the sterility different?

According to Stacy Wiegman, PharmD:

“Normal saline is the name for the 0.9% strength of sodium chloride (salt) solution in water. Only this strength of sodium chloride solution is called “normal” saline because its osmolarity is nearly the same as that of blood. The term “normal saline” is usually used only for the sodium chloride 0.9% solution products used for body tissue irrigation and injection. Normal saline is very commonly used in the hospital and clinic setting to administer fluids to a patient intravenously (IV), to dilute injectable medications for IV administration, to irrigate (wash out) wounds or organ tissue. Normal saline for irrigation is available by prescription for wound care at home. Normal saline for injection is usually not used outside of a hospital or clinic setting.”

The Hunt Continues

So back on the internet, I found a medical supply company that will sell them to me. They look just like those used in the hospital and transplant clinic. I ordered them and no prescription was requested. Now I sit and wait to see if the product arrives.


I can buy Claritin D and Sudafed without a prescription (after the pharmacy documents my purchase with my driver’s license). While I don’t understand all that goes into the meth manufacturing world, I can at least follow the logic.

I can buy narcotic pain medicines with a prescription and photo ID. Yet I can’t buy normal saline syringes with a prescription and photo ID. Just another day in my crazy life.

If you can explain this to me, please do. Am I the only one out there who has experienced this?



One thought on “What’s So Special About Normal Saline?

  1. Bonnie Evans

    Hey Marina, Check at Northside Hospital. We use to get heparin to flush out Joe’s lines. They were already filled and the hospital pharmacy would hive them to us.

Leave a Reply