Tackling Low Medication Supplies
and Disruptions in the Supply Chain
Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic
The pharmaceutical supply chain is global and sensitive to disruptions worldwide.
The pharmacy supply chain is quite complex and global. It is a sequence of many moving interdependent parts, and it involves numerous diverse stakeholders – couple that with vulnerable and fragmented healthcare environments consisting of several operational and systemic flaws. Simply put, the supply chain embodies manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, health systems, and patients – among numerous other stakeholders. It includes active ingredients (APIs), manufacturing of medications, packaging materials, labs, and the design process, final product, and delivery of medications to health systems, healthcare providers, and patients.
The manufacturing and distribution of medications is also a multi-national process. The FDA has reported that about 80% of the active ingredients and about 40% of finished medications come from sources outside of the US.(1) The supply chain must be equipped to provide medications to both patients and healthcare facilities such as hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies. The health system and healthcare provider reality focuses on ensuring they have the medications they need on their shelves to administer or dispense to the patients they serve. Whether the health system & provider receives the medication is dependent on all the stakeholders responsible for providing the medication (including manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors). They both are faced with numerous challenges in their quest to obtain the best medications for patients. The patient reality focuses on ensuring the patient receives the medication. To get the medication to the patient, the health system & healthcare provider must provide the medication, and the patient must receive it. Increasing access to both health systems and patients remains a top priority.
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1. Unites States Food and Drug Administration. Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act (FDASIA). https://www.fda.gov/regulatory-information/selected-amendments-fdc-act/food-and-drug-administration-safety-and-innovation-act-fdasia