In a letter to the leadership of major pharmacy organizations, HDA President and CEO Chester “Chip” Davis, Jr. underscores how individual distributors typically manage, and are adapting to, the unprecedented supply challenges presented by COVID-19.
Recipients included the American Pharmacists Association, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.
Davis commends organizations and members working on the front lines of the COVID-19 response. “During this crisis, the importance of close collaboration, and the strength of our relationships, has never been more vital as we deliver medication, medical supplies and critical care to patients during COVID-19,” he says.
Allocation and transparency
The letter addresses some concerns regarding wholesaler allocation practices, as there have been significant supply chain demands related to COVID-19.
Davis reiterated the importance of distributors, noting that these industry partners “ensure the safe, efficient and reliable delivery of 92% of the medicines purchased in the U.S., connecting 180,000 providers and pharmacies with 1,300 drug manufacturers nationwide.”
“There has been manufacturer supply disruption in many products used to treat the symptoms of COVID-19. We have also seen insurance plan approval of and an increased patient demand for 90-day refills, which have added to the pressure on supply” he says.
As distributors quickly adapt to allow more fluidity than ever before to ensure supply, not every shortage is meeting the traditional FDA definition of shortage. “Distributors consider a medicine in short supply when there is not enough product to fulfill customer orders,” Davis notes. “This is when using allocation programs to manage the demands on inventory becomes necessary for an individual wholesale distributor.”
While historical allocation is an important data point, distributors are using other real-time information, including needs of specific COVID-19 hotspots, to make decisions.
Communication and transparency are critical so that the pharmacy community understands what distributors are doing behind the scenes to deliver needed medication and supplies.
For the full letter, visit HDA Letter to Pharmacy Community.