Washington Summit Promotes Value Of Distribution

Government leaders and industry experts share best practices from the COVID-19 response during first-ever Pandemic Preparedness Summit.

Healthcare distribution leaders
Left to right: Angela Davis, Cardinal Health; Gerry LoDuca, Dukal; Ken Spett, Graham-Field; Bill Fitzgerald, ConvaTec

September 2022 | From HIDA's Healthcare Distribution & Supply Chain™ magazine

Leaders from across the healthcare distribution industry convened in Washington, D.C. in June for HIDA’s first in-person Washington Summit in three years. In over 100 meetings on Capitol Hill, healthcare distribution advocates met with senators and representatives of both parties on a variety of legislative issues to boost preparedness and streamline the medical supply chain.

HIDA held its first-ever Pandemic Preparedness Summit to share best practices from the COVID-19 response and strengthen public-private partnerships throughout the health supply chain. The Summit convened healthcare distributors and manufacturers from the private sector with federal partners from government agencies charged with managing pandemic preparedness and the healthcare supply chain. Federal partners included representatives from the Health and Human Services Department’s Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, Supply Chain Control Tower, Strategic National Stockpile, Food and Drug Administration Resilient Supply Chain Program, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Senator Burr Honored For Commitment To Preparedness

At the opening breakfast of the Washington Summit, HIDA honored Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) as the recipient of the Preparedness Policy Excellence Award. Throughout his career, Senator Burr has been a leader in preparedness, including the 2006 passage of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA), which created the modern framework for responding to pandemics, biothreats, and natural disasters.

“I have spent my career writing preparedness legislation that we hope we never have to use,” Senator Burr said. “Were it not for what you do as distributors, we would not have been able to make as much progress as we have toward our goal of bringing critical healthcare supplies to every corner of every state. As we chart our way out of COVID, we need to update our preparedness plans for this decade and the decade to come.”

Senator Burr is currently working on S.3799, the Prepare for and Respond to Existing Viruses, Emerging New Threats (PREVENT) and Pandemics Act. The PREVENT Pandemics Act is comprehensive, bipartisan legislation that will apply lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic to strengthen medical supply chains and public health preparedness.

North Carolina is home to the largest number of medical supply manufacturers and distributors in the southeast United States. This includes the manufacture of surgical kits in Asheville, procedure trays in Salisbury, medical furniture and examination tables in High Point, meltblown fabric for personal protective equipment in Lexington, and laboratory pipette tips in Alamance County.

What happens at a fly-in? How do HIDA members represent our industry on Capitol Hill? HIDA members, download the magazine PDF here to view photos of a single day in Washington, as members share insights on pandemic preparedness and supply chain readiness.

Washington Summit

During the fly-in, HIDA members held 116 meetings with senators and representatives from 41 states. In the House, HIDA met with 88 offices in total, including representatives of key committees such as Energy & Commerce, Transportation & Infrastructure, and Ways & Means. HIDA met with 28 Senate offices, including lawmakers from the powerful Commerce, Finance, and Appropriations committees.

HIDA members met with staff from the top congressional leaders from the House and the Senate — Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Key Legislative Priorities At The Washington Summit
  • PREVENT Pandemics Act
    This bipartisan legislation strengthens the nation’s public health and medical preparedness and response systems in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The PREVENT Pandemics Act recognizes the vital role of public-private partnerships in managing medical supplies during a pandemic, by incorporating a vendor-managed inventory component into the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS).
  • Ocean Shipping Reform Act
    HIDA applauded congressional passage of the most comprehensive maritime legislation in 40 years. The new law empowers the Federal Maritime Commission to combat unfair trade practices in the shipping industry and addresses price gouging on container shipping fees by ocean carriers.
  • Fast Pass
    A Fast Pass Critical Cargo Pilot Program for Medical Supplies would authorize federal agencies to partner with ports and marine terminal operators to identify critical cargo and expedite its movement through the ports and across all modes of transportation.
  • Strengthening America’s Strategic National Stockpile Act
    A bill to boost domestic manufacturing to diversify sources of personal protective equipment (PPE). Provisions of this bill were included in the bipartisan innovation package, but were removed shortly before passage.

Pandemic Preparedness Summit

The Pandemic Preparedness Summit was a unique gathering of public and private sector stakeholders for in-depth conversations about preparedness issues.

Topics Of Discussion
  • Supply Chain Collaboration
    Stakeholders discussed collaborations and partnerships that would support, not supplant, the commercial supply chain. The private sector is scaled to make, source, and distribute medical products to healthcare providers across the care continuum. Federal partners have provided the planning, funding, and prioritization to create a comprehensive response.
  • Communication Protocols
    Participants built on the foundation of trust and communication developed during the COVID-19 response. Solutions were discussed to better structure protocols to ensure the lines of communication between government and industry remain operational in the future.
  • Technology & Data
    Public-private partnerships can be enhanced by sharing the right information at the right time. Participants identified barriers to data-sharing that would inhibit future preparedness response.
Emerging Themes
  • Build Sustainable Relationships
    Trust and communication built during the pandemic needs to be continued; informal networks and relationships need to be standardized.
  • Communicate Production Signals
    A metrics-based system should be developed and designed to signal to industry a need to ramp up production on a phased basis. Ideally, the system would consist of three phases to communicate anticipated increased demand for critical medical supplies.
  • Create A Critical Product List
    Public and private stakeholders should work together to identify producers who have the capacity to meet manufacturing needs of critical medical products at the start of an emergency. Such a database would be kept up-to-date to reflect mergers and acquisitions in the industry, so that the federal government would have a ready list of suppliers. In a pandemic or other public health emergency, these warm production lines could be activated.