Fund a Strategic Medical Supply Stockpile

Strategic National Medical Supply

The U.S. government does not maintain a strategic supply of critical medicine should there be a dramatic cut off of our supply chain to both prescription and Over-The-Counter drugs. There does not need to national health emergency similar to the coronavirus pandemic we currently face. The U.S. learned in the 1970s the impact of having our supply of oil cut off. At that time, the U.S. created the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, (SPR). The SPR is intended to carry our country over another disruption of the supply of crude oil for about 165 days.

In the 1970s the Strategic Petroleum Stockpile was made to make ourselves energy independent again. Now is the time to create a Strategic Medical Supply so foreign countries like China and India cannot place us in a chokehold in times like the Covid-19 Pandemic.

- Dr. George Flinn

Conservative Republican U.S. Senate Candidate

The U.S. also has a Strategic National Stockpile, (SNS). The SNS is an emergency response agency tasked to deal with specific public health issues. The coronavirus emergency is putting the SNS to the test. At present, the SNS has been providing test kits, masks, and gloves to health care providers. Some of these efforts have fallen short, as experts testified in front of Congress.  This is a system of warehouses that serve state and federal agencies and not designed to provide for the general public. The stockpile contains medicine, supplies, and equipment needed to respond to specific public health emergencies. Unlike the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which is in response to the disruption of supply, SNS is a medical response agency intended to serve federal, state, and local health officials. Countries that have similar stockpiles for medical emergencies including the UK, Japan, and Israel.

The Strategic National Stockpile, (SNS) is an important part of response armament after a biological attack. The stockpile is managed by the CDC and contains antibiotics, antitoxins, vaccines, life-support medications, and medical supplies. It is used to support and supplement state and local resources during a large-scale public health emergency. Within 12 hours of a request, a Push-Package containing an initial supplemental cache of medical countermeasures and supplies can be at the targeted destination. Through the various warehouses where the packages are strategically stored, their delivery is facilitated promptly.

 

In addition to the push-pack, a vendor managed inventory is called on to deliver ongoing medical needs and supplies.

Since the 1990s, U.S. companies have increasingly imported pharmaceutical products from China and India. The ingredients and labor are cheaper and regulations are fewer in those countries. As a result, we are now heavily dependent upon these countries for our drug and medical supplies.

Basic Facts about our Supply Chain of Drugs

  1. ​China is the second-largest exporter of drugs, biologicals (drugs from natural sources) to the U.S.

  2. China is the largest supplier of medical devices.​

    • Class 1: Bandages and gloves​

    • Class 2: Scissors, forceps, and other surgical supplies

    • Class 3: Pacemakers and ventilators

    • Class 4: Imaging devices

  3. About 80 percent of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients come from China and India.

  4. The U.S. relies upon China for 90 percent of our generic prescription medicine

  5. India provides over 40 percent of the over-the-counter drugs to the U.S.

  6. India depends heavily upon China for the ingredients in their drug production.

From a supply chain perspective, India is dependent upon China, factories in China have been closed to deal with the coronavirus, so India has been forced to slow production of its products coming to the U.S. Further, the Indian government has stopped the export of twenty-six pharmaceutical products, mostly antibiotics to ensure adequate supplies remain in their own country.  This decision makes drug shortages a potential here in the U.S. particularly, antibiotics.

Drugs that are at risk for supply chain disruption has not been disclosed by the Federal Drug Administration. But, since China produces nearly 97 percent of the U.S. supply of antibiotics, those are a prime example of drugs that can be disrupted. Additionally, China produces 90 percent of U.S. used vitamin C, 95 percent of our ibuprofen, and 91 percent of hydrocortisone. China also produces generic drugs for U.S. distribution including HIV/AIDS, diabetes, epilepsy and Parkinson disease. In other words, the U.S. is heavily dependent upon foreign sources of our prescription and over-the-counter, (OTC) drug supply. A supply that may be at risk the longer the impacts of the coronavirus in China impact manufacturing.

We know the Federal Drug Administration, (FDA) has asked drug companies to evaluate their supply chains with China and India and take steps to mitigate potential shortages. The question is, are U.S. manufacturers gearing up to compensate for the foreign shortfalls. Do we know the time required to start up production and to make an impact on the U.S supply for prescription and OTC drugs?

The dependence upon foreign countries for drugs is not the only medical supply item impacted. There are major medical devices that are manufactured in China. Firms in the medical device manufacturing industry produce diagnostic, medical monitoring, and treatment equipment. Surgical masks are also predominately made in China, and testing kits are made in Europe.  And, the Center for Disease Control warns that we are in short supply of masks and testing kits.

Solutions

The United States needs to ensure that the American people are provided for in times national health emergencies or other national impactful health events. The Department of Health and Human Services, (HHS) should seek Congressional approval and funding to create a Strategic Medical Stockpile, (SMS).

  1. Similar to the Strategic Petroleum Supply, the SMS would be designed to provide a basic supply of critical drugs during periods of supply chain disruption. The disruption could be either the final drug products or active prescription ingredients.

  2. The SMS warehouse facilities would store key medical supplies and medicines to cover planned disruptions in the supply chain of medical products. The facilities should be located in areas that permit overnight distribution, such as the FedEx facilities in Memphis, TN. This would be separate from the SNS which is designed to be a rapid response unit for medical emergencies.

  3. The SMS would establish standards for the acquisition and storage of medical supplies for the general public and medical facility consumption. The number of products stored would take into account the needs of medical supply companies and pharmaceutical companies as well as other related industries to react to and begin local manufacture of these goods.

  4. In the case of pharmaceuticals, not only would supplies of finished drugs be stored, but also the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients, allowing the companies time to start up local manufacturing and provide raw materials while establishing new supply chains.

  5. The storage of test kits, surgical masks, and similar protective equipment again would be based upon providing sufficient quantities until new supply chain manufacturing could be provided, either locally or from alternative foreign sources.

  6. The U.S. needs to become as independent as possible in the production of pharmaceutical and medical devices.

    1. Congress and the Executive Branch need to pass federal incentives for pharmaceutical and medical supply companies to locate new manufacturing facilities here in the U.S.

    2. States and local governments should include in their economic development incentives, the fulfillment of federal economic independence policies.

When a state of emergency happens, these supplies would be issued across the country to hospitals and medical organizations.  As we are seeing now, there is a huge rise in prices for some of thee essential medical supplies.  With government-issued supplies, we wouldn’t see price gouging and those in need could get what they need.

Paid for by Friends of George Flinn 2020

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