Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Public Health Researchers Call for New Measures to Protect Pharmaceutical Supply Chain

Shortages of important drugs amid COVID-19 crisis highlights need for policy changes

Newswise — Shortages of many essential drugs amid the COVID-19 crisis reveal serious vulnerabilities in the systems for supplying and distributing pharmaceuticals in the United States, according to a new report led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

In the report, “The Pandemic and the Supply Chain,” the researchers identify multiple problems in the drug supply chain, and then recommend specific policy actions that the Food and Drug Administration and Congress could take to reduce current drug shortages and prevent future shortages—creating incentives for more U.S.-based production of essential pharmaceuticals, for example.

In a commentary published online January 28 in the American Journal of Public Health, several report co-authors outline an agenda to address these challenges.

“The COVID-19 crisis has further exposed the vulnerability of the United States to shortages of essential drugs,” says Joshua M. Sharfstein, Vice Dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement at the Bloomberg School, who contributed to both the report and the commentary. “Our recommendations are meant not only to address current challenges in the pandemic, but also to improve the workings of the supply chain under ordinary circumstances.”

The COVID-19 pandemic sharply increased demand for drugs commonly used in intensive care settings. These included sedatives, which are given to patients on ventilators, and vasopressors, which help support patients who have dangerously low blood pressure—a frequent complication of severe COVID-19. Many of these drugs had already been subject to at least moderate shortages due to chronic supply chain deficiencies prior to the pandemic.

As the authors note in their report, the sudden and enormous COVID-19-driven increase in demand for such drugs was part of a perfect storm leading to shortages all the way up the supply chain, even for the basic chemical ingredients used in these pharmaceuticals.

While increased hospital demand for COVID-19-related drugs was one big factor, major disruptions on the supply side diminished supply flow. Weeks before the coronavirus reached a significant threshold in the U.S., many global factories that produce drug ingredients and drugs had already shut down. Moreover, the pandemic closed international shipping ports or greatly reduced their flow of goods, prevented Food and Drug Administration officials from inspecting manufacturing facilities abroad, and prompted some countries’ governments to restrict drug exports to preserve their domestic supplies.

At the same time, the authors argue, FDA and other organizations that are supposed to detect medical shortages did not have adequate systems in place for this purpose when the COVID-19 crisis struck. These systems performed particularly poorly in the tracking of the local shortages that soon occurred in the U.S. health care system nationwide. The authors found that the U.S. government also lacked the ability to quickly shift supplies of scarce drugs as needed to alleviate these local shortages.

The report notes that the U.S. government has already taken some steps to fix these problems, though the authors recommend further actions: FDA should expand their drug-shortage surveillance system to better track local shortages—and as part of a larger effort to set up a supply chain management system that can operate during crises. They also recommend that the FDA should create incentives for more manufacturers, especially domestic drugmakers, to get involved in producing drugs that are currently subject to shortages.

“There are multiple dimensions to the challenges facing the supply chain,” says Sharfstein. “Fixing weaknesses is both an urgent task and a necessary step to improve resilience in the future.”

Mariana Socal, MD, assistant scientist in the Bloomberg School’s Department of Health Policy and Management and a member of the Johns Hopkins Drug Access and Affordability Initiative project team, coordinated a group of faculty and students in developing the report. She contributed both to the report and the commentary.

The report, “The Pandemic and the Supply Chain: Addressing Gaps in Pharmaceutical Production and Distribution," was written by Joshua Choe, Matthew Crane, Jeremy Greene, Jingmiao Long, Joelynn Mwanga, Joshua Sharfstein, Mariana Socal, and Rachel Strodel.

The American Journal of Public Health commentary was written by Mariana Socal, Joshua Sharfstein, and Jeremy A. Greene.

# # #




Filters close

Showing results

110 of 5640
Released: 15-May-2021 8:05 AM EDT
Rutgers Reports First Instance of COVID-19 Triggering Recurrent Blood Clots in Arms
Rutgers University-New Brunswick

Researchers at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School are reporting the first instance of COVID-19 triggering a rare recurrence of potentially serious blood clots in people’s arms.

access_time Embargo lifts in 2 days
Embargo will expire: 20-May-2021 10:00 AM EDT Released to reporters: 14-May-2021 2:40 PM EDT

A reporter's PressPass is required to access this story until the embargo expires on 20-May-2021 10:00 AM EDT The Newswise PressPass gives verified journalists access to embargoed stories. Please log in to complete a presspass application. If you have not yet registered, please Register. When you fill out the registration form, please identify yourself as a reporter in order to advance to the presspass application form.

Released: 14-May-2021 11:25 AM EDT
Access to overdose-reversing drugs declined during pandemic, researchers find
Beth Israel Lahey Health

In a new study, clinician-researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) analyzed naloxone prescription trends during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States and compared them to trends in opioid prescriptions and to overall prescriptions.

Released: 14-May-2021 11:00 AM EDT
No Excuses: Stop Procrastinating on These Key Health Checks
Michigan Medicine - University of Michigan

A quick guide to the most-valuable preventive care that adults need to get scheduled, to catch up on what they may have missed during the height of the pandemic, and to address issues that the pandemic might have worsened.

Released: 13-May-2021 7:05 PM EDT
FLCCC Statement on the Irregular Actions of Public Health Agencies & the Disinformation Campaign Against Ivermectin
Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC Alliance)

FLCCC Alliance calls for whistleblower to step forward from within WHO, the FDA, the NIH, Merck, or Unitaid to counter this misrepresentation

Newswise: shutterstock_1724336896.jpg
Released: 13-May-2021 12:55 PM EDT
Kreuter receives $1.9 million in grants to increase vaccinations in St. Louis
Washington University in St. Louis

Matthew Kreuter, the Kahn Family Professor of Public Health at the Brown School, has received $1.9 million in grants to help increase COVID-19 vaccinations among Blacks in St. Louis City and County.

Released: 13-May-2021 11:35 AM EDT
COVID-19 mRNA Vaccines are Immunogenic in Pregnant and Lactating Women, Including Against Viral Variants
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

In a new study from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center researchers evaluated the immunogenicity of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines in pregnant and lactating women who received either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. They found that both vaccines triggered immune responses in pregnant and lactating women.

Released: 13-May-2021 10:30 AM EDT
Pandemic stigma: Foreigners, doctors wrongly targeted for COVID-19 spread in India
Monash University

The Indian public blamed foreigners, minority groups and doctors for the rapid spread of COVID-19 across the country during the first wave, due to misinformation, rumour and long-held discriminatory beliefs, according to an international study led by Monash University.


Showing results

110 of 5640

close
2.02313