With coronavirus outbreaks spreading worldwide, the United States is “likely” to see a shortage of generic pharmaceutical drugs, according to a new federal intelligence report obtained by ABC News.
The report, prepared by the Department of Homeland Security and distributed Thursday to law enforcement and government agencies across the country, warned that the United States is already seeing a shortage of more than 200 drugs and medical supplies due to supply chain strains caused by international closings. At the beginning of the pandemic.
Analysts concluded that those shortages would only worsen if uncontrolled outbreaks forced another round of widespread closings, further forcing the system in a way that many US-based pharmaceutical companies would be “unable to quickly compensate.”
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“Chinese factories that produce raw ingredients for common antibiotics closed for weeks starting in March, and the India shutdown lasted until the end of May,” the report said, citing press reports. “France, Germany and China have also considered reimposing blockade measures as COVID-19 cases have begun to resurface.”
The warning comes when officials in some states have already suspended some reopening plans or closed again as coronavirus cases increase in at least 29 states, according to an analysis by ABC News. Florida reported just under 9,000 new cases on Friday, the highest number since the pandemic began.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease official, made what he called a “plea” to the country on Friday to understand that the outbreaks, found mainly in the south and west, could spread to the entire country. .
“If we don’t extinguish the outbreak, sooner or later, even those who are doing well will be vulnerable to spread,” Fauci said. “So we have to keep that in mind because we are all together, and the only way we are going to end is by ending together.”
Vice President Mike Pence, however, said the country has made “truly remarkable progress” in its advancement and praised “all 50 states in this country are opening up safely and responsibly” before acknowledging some increases.
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Dr. Jay Bhatt, a former chief medical officer for the American Hospital Association, called the report “extremely concerning”, especially amid a pandemic.
“Accessing affordable generic drugs for vulnerable populations can mean the difference between a good result and a bad result,” said Bhatt, a contributor to ABC News. “As infections and hospitalizations increase, our patients cannot cope with the shortage of life-saving medications. We have to apply our lessons from several months ago so as not to end up in a desperate situation.”
The report further warned that the drug shortage would have a disproportionate effect on low-income Americans.
A decline in generic pharmaceuticals, which are significantly less expensive than their brand-name counterparts, “would further jeopardize the health of low-income and unemployed Americans,” who have already been hard hit by the economic difficulties of the pandemic, according to the report.
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“People who can’t afford generic pharmaceuticals are unlikely to switch to brand-name prescriptions because they can cost up to 95 percent more,” the report said, citing data from a US pharmaceutical research company and a Food and Drug Administration study.
“I am concerned about underserved communities and safety net hospitals without significant resources in urban and rural communities as well,” said Bhatt. “I hope that hospitals and states that are not facing shortages can share with those who must meet the need.”