Antibiotics. Sedation drugs. Masks. Isolation gowns. Ventilators. With items like these needed to treat or care for those with COVID-19, shortages are inevitable.
Yet mitigating shortages should be part of the healthcare system’s emergency plans — especially with procurement heavily weighted toward global sources, said Nada Sanders, a supply chain management professor at Northeastern University.
"This is something companies should have learned," she told Supply Chain Dive. With 9/11, SARS and the 2011 tsunami in Japan, "we’ve had massive disruption that comes on a regular basis."
The pharmaceutical industry’s motivation is lowering cost in the short-term, she said, and this results in supply problems during emergency events like COVID-19.
An estimated 80% of active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) come from abroad, typically China and India. With India sourcing about 70% of APIs from China, a kink in either country presents problems for the U.S.
"As a society, we rely heavily on medication," Sanders said, making it risky to depend so heavily on one region.