The evolving COVID-19 “coronavirus” pandemic has upended the lives and routines of almost every American across the country. It is during these challenging times, however, that communities have shown their resolve by coming together to tackle problems and support one another.
As the logistics experts of healthcare, pharmaceutical distributors work across the broader healthcare community to help ensure that providers, pharmacies and patients have access to the vital medicines and supplies they need. During the COVID-19 pandemic, our daily mission of supporting a safe, efficient and resilient supply chain has never been more important.
Over the coming weeks, we will share how HDA members are responding to the evolving pandemic and working with partners inside and outside the healthcare community to support hospitals, pharmacies and healthcare providers.
Leveraging Healthcare Relationships
HDA members are leveraging their strong relationships with healthcare partners to collaborate on solutions to expand testing capabilities for COVID-19.
For example, Cardinal Health partnered with Quidel Corporation, a leading diagnostic healthcare manufacturer, to distribute the newly authorized SARS CoV-2 assay. The product will provide certified labs with a fast, accurate tool to diagnose patients potentially infected with coronavirus. Cardinal Health also is working with supplier partners to test alternative swabs as a potential replacement for the normal coronavirus testing swabs that are in supply disruption.
Additionally, Henry Schein recently announced that they will distribute a new second point-of-care rapid test kit developed by BD and BioMedomics that can detect antibodies associated with COVID-19 in as little as 15 minutes.
Transforming Last-Mile Delivery
The coronavirus pandemic creates systemic challenges to the healthcare supply chain, which could directly impact patient access to the vital medicines and supplies they rely on every day. To address these individual and personalized challenges, distributors such as AmerisourceBergen are collaborating with pharmacies, hospitals and other healthcare providers on solutions to reach patients directly.
AmerisourceBergen is supporting independent community pharmacies through its Good Neighbor Pharmacy network to expand free home delivery options for patients who are unable to leave their homes. Additionally, they are working with clinical trial sponsors to implement direct-to-patient models, which extend clinical trial and specialty medicine delivery programs to patients who are at home, following guidance from public health officials.
Strengthening Supply Chains
HDA and its distributor members are working directly with Healthcare Ready, an organization that addresses pressing healthcare issues before, during and after disasters, to leverage strong relationships with government, nonprofit and medical supply chains to build and enhance the resiliency of communities across the country.
Through this partnership, Healthcare Ready is monitoring and responding to demand for pharmaceuticals and PPE to maintain supply chain operations for these vital healthcare products, as well as managing humanitarian assistance efforts to ensure donations and supplies go where they are most needed. Business continuity resources for industry partners and health and safety resources for individuals are available at HealthcareReady.org.
Activating Public-Private Partnerships
Healthcare workers are on the frontlines in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic. Supporting these critical workers is vital to our effort to combat the public health crisis, and that begins with helping healthcare professionals and first responders maintain access to the personal protective equipment (PPE) they need to treat patients and protect themselves.
To proactively address PPE shortages, HDA members Cardinal Health, McKesson, Medline Industries and Henry Schein are participating in “Project Airbridge,” a public-private partnership led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to expedite shipments of critical supplies to hotspots and existing customers. The initiative’s first shipment arrived on March 29 with 80 tons of PPE, including masks, gowns, gloves and thermometers, according to the White House.
Effectively responding to COVID-19 will require the public and private sectors to continue working hand-in-hand, and distributors are committed to engaging in these critical partnerships.
Despite the individual and systemic challenges provided by the evolving pandemic, HDA and its primary pharmaceutical members are rising to the occasion by collaborating with partners across the broader healthcare community to respond and help deliver critically needed medicines and healthcare products to hospitals and pharmacies across the country.
This is a first look at distributors’ initiatives to respond to the public health crisis; we will be sharing more information in coming weeks as the situation evolves. For additional HDA materials and pandemic response resources, visit: www.hda.org/covid19.
ABOUT THE HEALTHCARE DISTRIBUTION ALLIANCE
The Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HDA) represents primary pharmaceutical distributors — the vital link between the nation’s pharmaceutical manufacturers and pharmacies, hospitals, long-term care facilities, clinics and others nationwide. Since 1876, HDA has helped members navigate regulations and innovations to get the right medicines to the right patients at the right time, safely and efficiently. The HDA Research Foundation, HDA’s nonprofit charitable foundation, serves the healthcare industry by providing research and education focused on priority healthcare supply chain issues.