House panel OKs ‘medicine stockpiling’ bill

calendar: House panel OKs ‘medicine stockpiling’ bill

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House panel OKs ‘medicine stockpiling’ bill

MANILA, Philippines — A House panel yesterday approved a bill seeking the stockpiling of medicines for public health emergencies like the current coronavirus pandemic.

The committee on health chaired by Quezon Rep. Helen Tan has approved the substitute to the proposed “Health Procurement and Stockpiling Act,” which seeks to ensure supply of critical drugs, vaccines, devices and materials in times of public health emergencies.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the need to preposition critical and strategic pharmaceuticals and medical devices as well as the supply of raw materials. The country needs to be proactive in its response to public health emergencies,” explained Tan, principal author of the bill.

The bill proposes the creation of the Health Procurement and Stockpiling Bureau under the Department of Health, which will absorb the existing Procurement Service and the Supply Chain Management Service and serve as the principal agency mandated to undertake a transparent, fair, proactive and innovative procurement service for the DOH.

The new bureau will be tasked to stockpile, conserve and facilitate the release of adequate amounts of potentially lifesaving pharmaceuticals, vaccines, devices and materials in times of public health emergencies.

It will also be mandated to identify strategic and critical drugs and medicines, vaccines, devices and materials needed for public health emergencies that have the distinct capability of being stockpiled in strategic and secure areas of the country; supplement drugs and medicines, vaccines, devices and materials to state supplies acting as a stopgap buffer when the immediate supply of adequate amounts of drugs and medicines, vaccines, devices and materials may not be immediately available; and ensure the rotation, replenishment and freshness of stocks and that there exists at all times steady, available and adequate supplies in responding to public health emergencies.

The proposed DOH bureau will also lead in facilitating the creation of a conducive environment to encourage pharmaceutical and device self-sufficiency for medical supplies needed by the country and spearhead the crafting of a multi-sector National Drug and Device Security Program geared towards the country’s self-reliance in producing drugs and medicines, vaccines, devices and materials.

Tan pointed out that based on the Joint External Evaluation Mission report, the Philippines, due to its location, is one of the most natural-disaster prone countries in the world and in the past decade the country has faced challenges in making solid progress in infectious disease control.

“Given this situation, the country’s preparedness in times of public health emergencies is significantly necessary such as during pandemics and natural disasters,” the lawmaker stressed.?

In proposing the measure, Tan lamented how COVID-19 caught the country and the world flatfooted as it affected the global and local production and distribution of pharmaceuticals and medical devices as well as the supply of raw materials.

She recalled how some countries even imposed limits on export of medicines and medical supplies/equipment such as face masks, shields and ventilators to mitigate critical shortages in their countries likewise aggravated the situation.

The lawmaker cited, for

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Wealthier hospitals stockpiling N95 masks leave nursing homes scrambling

Nursing homes, small physician offices and rural clinics are being left behind in the rush for N95 masks and other protective gear, exposing some of the country’s most vulnerable populations and their caregivers to COVID-19 while larger, wealthier health care facilities build equipment stockpiles.

Take Rhonda Bergeron, who owns three health clinics in rural southern Louisiana. She said she’s been desperate for personal protective equipment since her clinics became COVID testing sites. Her plight didn’t impress national suppliers puzzled by her lack of buying history when she asked for 500 gowns. And one supply company allows her only one box of 200 gloves per 30 days for her three clinics. Right now, she doesn’t have any large gloves on-site.

“So in the midst of the whole world shutting down, you can’t get PPE to cover your own employees,” she said. “They’re refilling stuff to larger corporations when realistically we are truly the front line here.”

More than eight months into the pandemic, health care leaders are again calling for a coordinated national strategy to distribute personal protective equipment to protect health care workers and their patients as a new wave of disease wells up across most of the country. The demand for such gear, especially in hot spots, can be more than 10 times the pre-pandemic levels. While supply chains have adjusted, and the availability of PPE has improved dramatically since the mayhem of the spring, limited factories and quantities of raw materials still constrain supply amid the ongoing high demand.

In this free-market scramble, larger hospitals and other providers are stockpiling what they can even while others struggle. Some facilities are scooping up supplies to prepare for a feared wave of COVID-19 hospitalizations; others are following new stockpiling laws and orders in states such as California, New York and Connecticut.

“They’re putting additional strain on what’s still a fragile hospital supply chain,” said Soumi Saha, vice president of advocacy for Premier Inc., a group-purchasing organization that procures supplies for over 4,000 U.S. hospitals and health systems of various sizes. “We want available product to go to front-line health care workers and not go into a warehouse right now.”

Related: A second surge of the coronavirus in the fall and winter could be catastrophic for the U.S. It’s not just more sick people that doctors worry about.

Over a quarter of nursing homes in the country reported a shortage of items such as N95 masks, gloves or gowns from Aug. 24 through Sept. 20. A recent survey from the American Medical Association found 36 percent of physician offices reported having a difficult time securing PPE. And about 90 percent of nonprofit Get Us PPE’s recent requests for help with protective gear have come from non-hospital facilities, such as nursing homes, group homes and homeless shelters.

“I can completely understand that large health systems don’t want to find themselves short on PPE,” said Dr. Ali Raja, co-founder of Get Us PPE and executive vice chairman of emergency medicine at

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UN stockpiling billion syringes for Covid-19 vaccine

The United Nations said Monday it would stockpile one billion syringes around the world by the end of 2021, to be used for the delivery of any future coronavirus vaccine.

UNICEF, the UN Children’s Fund, said it aims to get 520 million syringes in its warehouses by the end of this year, to guarantee an initial supply in countries ahead of the vaccine.

“The world will need as many syringes as doses of vaccine,” UNICEF said in a statement.

UNICEF said it was also buying five million safety boxes for used syringes.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide passed 40 million on Monday, according to an AFP tally based on official sources. More than 1.1 million deaths have been recorded across the globe.

“Vaccinating the world against Covid-19 will be one of the largest mass undertakings in human history, and we will need to move as quickly as the vaccines can be produced,” said UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore.

“By the end of the year, we will already have over half a billion syringes pre-positioned where they can be deployed quickly and cost effectively.”

The syringes will be used by Covax, the international coronavirus vaccine procurement, production and distribution pool created by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Covax is run by the Gavi vaccine alliance, which will reimburse UNICEF for the syringes.

A public-private partnership, Gavi helps vaccinate half the world’s children against some of the deadliest diseases on the planet.

Syringes have a five-year shelf life and tend to be shipped by sea, rather than vaccines, which are heat-sensitive and transported more quickly by air freight.

The billion syringes come on top of the 620 million that UNICEF would purchase for other vaccination programmes against diseases such as measles and typhoid.

The WHO says 42 vaccine candidates are currently being tested on humans, of which 10 have reached the mass testing third and final stage.

A further 156 are being worked on in laboratories in preparation for human testing.

Typically, only around 10 percent of vaccine candidates make it through the trials.


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