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Drug Shortage Concerns Are Top of Mind Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

Published in: Pharmacy Times

“We are now starting to see spot shortages for a few different products, in part due to disease progression around the world, especially across Europe, which is a large producer of drugs,” Soumi Saha, PharmD, JD, senior director of advocacy at Premier Inc in Washington DC, said in an email interview with Pharmacy Times®. “Italy, for example, is the (number) 3 producer of active pharmaceutical ingredients behind India and China, so we’re keeping a close eye on the availability of raw ingredients from that region as part of our ongoing risk assessments.”

Premier is a health care improvement company that unites an alliance of approximately 4000 health systems and hospitals and more than 175,000 other organizations and providers. Saha said that Premier is also seeing an increase in the purchase of drugs that are expected to become frontline therapies for COVID-19.

For example, she said, “South Korea recently reported that certain anti-malarial drugs have positive outcomes in COVID-19 patients, and within 24 hours we saw a dramatic uptick in the purchasing of those drugs across the country.”

In terms of drug reserves, Premier is working with manufacturers to understand how much product is available to wholesalers, how much is in warehouses, or “how much could be on a barge coming across the Indian Ocean,” Saha said.

“We know that manufacturers of products for Premier’s drug shortage programs, including ProvideGx, have safety stock, and we are in discussions with suppliers, particularly for products that are in high-demand categories right now, such as metered dose inhalers and cholorquine, about ramping up production and ensuring adequate allocations in the supply chain,” Saha said.

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