The rapid emergence of H1N1 influenza A last spring, and its attendant coverage in the news, led to a sharp increase in demand for antivirals and related medical products, such as surgical masks and hand sanitizers, says the Healthcare Distribution Management Association (HDMA). The Federal government released a portion of the Strategic National Stockpile of antivirals. States around the country activated pandemic emergency plans. And, though there were occasional and anecdotal reports of product shortages, HDMA distributor members were critical to ensuring access to antivirals and other supplies for millions of Americans.
Representatives of Roche, GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis shared manufacturer perspectives and answered questions on pandemic preparedness efforts, including antiviral and vaccine production and supply capacity in a workshop conducted by HDMA. The group also reviewed lessons learned though HDMA’s participation in RxResponse, a group of healthcare trade associations dedicated to supporting the continued provision of medicines during a national emergency.
“The H1N1 pandemic underscores the extent to which the collaborative efforts are needed—across the entire healthcare supply chain, and especially with Federal, state and local health officials—to ensure that medicines and supplies are delivered safely and effectively,” said John M. Gray, HDMA president and CEO. “HDMA and its distributor members recognize this need. Today’s dialogue will enhance our collective preparedness to reliably deliver needed medicines and supplies in the event of a severe pandemic.”
The Association also has mobilized its Emergency Preparedness and Influenza Task Force to assist with coordination efforts and continues to actively share information with supply chain partners and public health officials.
“One lesson we all learned from our experience in April is the need for timely information—about not only how and where H1N1 is spreading, but also how the supply chain is responding,” said Greg Yonko, senior vice president for purchasing, McKesson and chair of the HDMA Emergency Preparedness and Influenza Task Force.