HDA President and CEO Chip Davis recently spoke at the 2021 BLC Online about the unique role of the healthcare distribution industry in combating COVID-19, how distributors continue to rise to its challenges and what is still needed to turn the corner on the pandemic, among other association priorities.
Below are a few takeaways and video clips from the discussion.
Distributors are the Backbone of the U.S. Healthcare Ecosystem
Every day, healthcare distributors sustain an intricate supply chain, serving as a vital link in the healthcare system and delivering medicines safely, securely and efficiently. This critical role in the pharmaceutical supply chain enabled the industry to quickly coordinate and enact response efforts to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19.
“Our members have relationships with over 1,400 manufacturers and over 180,000 healthcare providers moving 10 million shipments a day in the United States alone,” said Davis. “It’s an absolutely unbelievable, logistical herculean effort to make sure that that type of process happens so that people get the medicines they need, that providers get the medical supplies that they need.” Watch the video segment here.
Rising to the Challenge of COVID-19
From the earliest days of COVID-19, distributors maintained close coordination with hospitals, pharmacies and other sites of care; monitored for spikes in demand or dips in availability of products; communicated with industry and supply chain partners; assessed and mitigated shortages of critical medicines; and closely collaborated with federal agencies on overall response efforts.
“Distributors, again, working with their manufacturer and provider partners, were able to rise to the challenge in the early stages of COVID before we got to… [distribution] of therapeutics, treatments and ultimately vaccines,” highlighted Davis.
Managing Unprecedented Demand at the Height of the Pandemic
Even with the extraordinary demand for medicines and healthcare supplies, the pharmaceutical supply chain has proven to be quite reliable during the pandemic. Throughout COVID-19, distributors worked around the clock to increase medical capacity and enhance the national supply of critical medications and products, protect our frontline care providers, and enable treatment for patients.
Commenting “It was [nothing short] of a herculean task to ensure that there was sufficient product supply for those folks who needed to continue to get their medicines and medical supplies at the local pharmacy or local healthcare system.”
Supporting Our Pharmacy Partners
Distributors continue to use their scale, long-standing relationships and pharmacy networks to ensure providers have secure access to vaccines. Additionally, the industry is working with states to move products to dispensing sites and supporting pharmacies on the frontlines of administration.
“Our members have been playing a vital role in freeing up community and independent pharmacies to focus on administering the vaccines…so that we could get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible.” Watch the video segment here.
Lessons Learned and Looking Ahead
Distributors are leveraging lessons learned from the pandemic to ensure the safety of the supply chain and its resiliency to future threats.
“What we’ve offered to support the Biden administration in doing is highlighting those areas that we think worked and worked really well,” said Davis. “As an example, it’s that interplay, that relationship, that 360-degree view that distributors have with upstream partners on the manufacturing side and downstream partnerships with providers. That’s going to be a unique position for us to offer an assessment. Watch the video segment here.
Additional resources and information on distributor response to COVID-19 is available here.