September 2023 | From HIDA's Healthcare Distribution & Supply Chain™ magazine

Although unprecedented smoke from Canadian wildfires obscured much of the Washington skyline in June, HIDA members took to Capitol Hill to advocate on behalf of the medical supply chain. More than 100 distributors, along with some of their key manufacturer partners, came to the nation’s capital to ask Congressional leaders to support legislation to strengthen America’s preparedness infrastructure.

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Key Takeaways

  • Bipartisanship still exists. The first day of the Washington Summit featured insights from key Republican and Democratic staffers working on the reauthorization of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA). There was considerable consensus about the need to modernize preparedness infrastructure following the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthen ties between federal agencies and the private sector.
  • Federal agencies are listening. A record number of federal partners attended HIDA’s Preparedness Summit. On issues ranging from medical supply chain resilience to domestic manufacturing, HIDA is fast becoming essential in facilitating public-private partnerships.
  • Your voice matters. Face-to-face meetings with key decision-makers and elected leaders had a positive impact on pending legislation. Key HIDA priorities were included in the House version of PAHPA reauthorization — including language on vendor-managed inventory, longer government contracts, and the centrality of the Supply Chain Control Tower to data sharing and visibility.

Washington Fly-In Focuses On Public-Private Partnerships In The Medical Supply Chain

While on Capitol Hill, participants met with the offices of more than 80 senators and representatives. Many of these meetings were with committee members with jurisdiction over the medical supply chain — including the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP); House Energy and Commerce; House Transportation and Infrastructure; and Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation committees.

Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.)

Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, spoke to attendees about his work on preparedness policy. A senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Hudson is leading bipartisan efforts to reauthorize the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA).

In Hill Meetings, HIDA Members Stressed Specific Priorities Essential To Strengthening The Medical Supply Chain:

Urge Congress to reauthorize PAHPA
HIDA urges Congress to reauthorize PAHPA prior to its September 30 expiration. PAHPA’s all-hazards approach provides an opportunity to ensure consistency across all-disaster response efforts.

Incentivize domestic manufacturing
HIDA recommends that PAHPA reauthorization include a package of incentives to sustain the industrial base of critical products — such as government support to reduce capital expenditures through tax incentives, committed long-term contracts of at least five years, and targeted policies such as innovative technology assistance to companies investing in domestic and warm base capacity.

Prioritize public/private partnerships
HIDA endorses the creation of a permanent Medical Product Distributor Supply Chain Advisory Group of industry and federal partners from the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) and the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) to engage in regular communication and supply chain monitoring, flag potential disruptions, and collaborate on solutions.

Implement “fast-pass” system for medical supplies
HIDA supports the creation of a fast-pass process to expedite medical supplies throughout the nation’s transportation system. HIDA research estimates that approximately 31,000–46,000 containers of critical medical supplies were delayed an average of 29 days throughout the transportation system.

Preserve supply chain provisions enacted by the PREVENT Pandemics Act
HIDA advocates for the retention and expansion of key provisions in the Prepare for and Respond to Existing Viruses, Emerging New Threats and Pandemics Act. These include supply chain assessment, vendor-managed inventory, limited sales of SNS product (only to other federal agencies), and stronger U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to increase penalties for selling counterfeit devices.

HIDA Preparedness Summit: Bringing Unprecedented Public-Private Partnerships To The Medical Supply Chain

The second-annual HIDA Preparedness Summit convened a record number of federal, state, and local partners from key government agencies with leaders in the healthcare distribution industry. Discussion topics included efforts to build greater resilience into the medical supply chain and how to support the domestic manufacturing base.

Nikki Bratcher-Bowman, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and Chief Operating Officer for the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR), welcomed participants with opening remarks. She noted that ASPR is focusing its efforts to develop medical countermeasures against the seven viral families with the greatest pandemic potential.

Viral Families, With Examples (Common Names):

  • Adenoviridae: Respiratory Illnesses, Conjunctivitis
  • Coronaviridae: SARS, COVID-19, MERS
  • Orthomyxoviridae: Influenza, Respiratory Tract Illnesses
  • Paramyxoviridae: Measles, Mumps, RSV
  • Picornaviridae: Rhinovirus, Hepatitis A, Polio
  • Pneumoviridae: Pneumonia, Bronchitis, RSV
  • Poxviridae: Mpox, Smallpox
Preparedness Summit Attendees Focused On Several Key Issues:

Supply Chain Monitoring Partnership
Participants provided feedback on a protocol developed this year to monitor the health of the supply chain. Specifically, they discussed criteria to monitor in steady state (green), potential disruptions and how to resolve them (yellow), and roles when mitigation efforts are overwhelmed (red).

Industrial Base
The skyrocketing demand for medical products during the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for increased domestic manufacturing. Participants focused on efforts to ensure a strong industrial base going forward for future response needs.

In the words of one attendee, “If a burglar breaks into my house, I know to call 9-1-1. Who do I call to report a medical supply chain emergency?” Participants discussed efforts to create a centralized communication protocol to share intelligence about emerging threats to public health and bottlenecks in the medical supply chain.

Purell And GOJO: A Case Study On Vertical Integration For Pandemic Preparedness

The keynote address at the Preparedness Summit featured remarks from Carey Jaros, President and CEO of GOJO Industries. Jaros presented a case study, detailing GOJO’s pandemic response.

Jaros began her tenure as CEO in January 2020. Shortly after, the United States had its first COVID case, and GOJO’s sales and orders rose about 10X overnight. Beginning in early February, GOJO had two manufacturing and distribution facilities operating 24/7. “In March, hospitals across the country were in various phases of the pandemic, with many hospitals in the hardest hit areas of the country already reporting hand sanitizer usage of 3–4X normal levels, but most hospitals were still expecting the largest influx of patients to come in the next 30–60 days,” said Jaros.

In close collaboration with the government, GOJO shifted into the next phase of its pandemic response efforts and prioritized product for healthcare, first responders, the military, and grocery as it continued to ramp up production — which included adding three additional manufacturing and distribution facilities and securing its own captive source of high-quality ethanol in Northeast Ohio.

Jaros highlighted the need for a world-class supply chain that ensures quality, speed, and resiliency. “Supply chain is now one of the first things we talk about with our customers as one of our towering strengths,” Jaros said. “Every time we put a dispenser on the wall, it is a promise to our customers that they will always have our trusted products when they need us most.”

Carey Jaros

“Supply chain is now one of the first things we talk about with our customers as one of our towering strengths."

— Carey Jaros, President and CEO of GOJO Industries

Key Takeaways For Manufacturing During A Pandemic

Ramp Up Labor Quickly

  • Strengthen health and safety protocols to mitigate lost-time due to illness and keep experienced workers on the job.
  • Adopt personnel plans that clearly identify critical roles in surge, who will fill them, how those people’s existing work is backfilled or paused, and how that evolves over different phases, including final wind down of surge response.
  • Cross-train employees on needed skills so they can pivot to different roles within the organization.

Maintain Access To Critical Components

  • Come up with creative sourcing solutions. Just-in-time delivery and a global supply chain meant that a disruption in production of a critical component in one part of the world that downstream effects on product availability.

Strengthen Distribution Capacity

  • Align expectations for surge operations with the largest customers to facilitate faster response on most critical items.
  • Forward deploy inventory and truckload fulfillment to immediately increase product availability in the market while production increases.
  • Provide guidance for how customers will be served in times of supply scarcity and what support will be required from them to maximize product availability.

Members: Check out the full magazine PDF for all articles in the September-October 2023 issue.