Manufacturers Seek U.S. Help Deciding Where To Ship Scarce Medical Goods

To address coronavirus-related shortages, companies want the federal government to provide strategic guidance

By Rebecca Ballhaus and Andrew Restuccia | The Wall Street Journal
Updated March 29, 2020 5:36pm ET

HIDA President and CEO Matthew Rowan weighs in on the urgency for FEMA to designate priority locations for critical medical supply shipments. (WSJ subscription needed).
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Excerpted from The Wall Street Journal:
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WASHINGTON—Producers and distributors of medical supplies across the country are raising red flags about what they say is a lack of guidance from the federal government about where to send their products, as hospitals compete for desperately needed masks and ventilators to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The issue is taking on greater urgency as supplies run short in hard-hit regions. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, for example, said the city could run out of supplies after a week, saying in a CNN interview the city would “need a re-enforcement” after that to address a crisis that is certain to last much longer. (...) Full Article (subscription)►

In a letter to FEMA administrator Peter Gaynor on Thursday, the head of the Health Industry Distributors Association asked the federal government to designate jurisdictions or care facilities as priorities to receive medical supplies.

“I am writing to urge FEMA to provide the strategic direction needed to more effectively target PPE supplies based on greatest need,” wrote Matthew Rowan, the association’s president and CEO, referring to personal protective equipment. “The private sector is not in a position to make these judgments. Only the federal government has the data and the authority to provide this strategic direction to the supply chain and the healthcare system.”

“We understand prioritization is on your agenda,” he added, “but urge you to expedite the work.”

The Wall Street Journal continues:

FEMA last weekend sent a spreadsheet to producers and distributors, asking them to identify their inventory of more than two dozen types of personal protective equipment—including N-95 masks, gloves, protective eyewear and hand sanitizer—as well as of ventilators, inhalers, tubing sets and Food and Drug Administration-approved testing materials. Among the information FEMA sought about the companies’ inventory was its current location and the destination of its planned shipments.

Company executives said they didn’t fault the federal government for not yet providing guidance on allocation, adding that they expected clarity soon. They said administration officials have been communicative and responsive to their concerns.


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