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Ensuring Access to Medications in the US During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Educational Objective
To understand how the COVID-19 pandemic may affect the US’s access to medication
1 Credit CME

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic continues to rapidly evolve. Given the origins of COVID-19 in China, there were initial concerns regarding medication shortages due to the reliance of the US on overseas manufacturing of active pharmaceutical ingredients.1,2 Although no major disruptions in pharmaceutical access have occurred thus far, the future of the pandemic and its effect on the US drug supply remains far from certain.

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Article Information

Corresponding Author: G. Caleb Alexander, MD, MS, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology, 615 N Wolfe St, W6035, Baltimore, MD 21205 (galexan9@jhmi.edu).

Published Online: April 9, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.6016

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Dr Alexander reported that he is past chair of FDA’s Peripheral and Central Nervous System Advisory Committee; has served as a paid advisor to IQVIA; is a cofounding principal and equity holder in Monument Analytics, a health care consultancy whose clients include the life sciences industry as well as plaintiffs in opioid litigation; and is a member of OptumRx’s National P&T Committee. This arrangement has been reviewed and approved by Johns Hopkins University in accordance with its conflict of interest policies. Dr Qato is a paid consultant for Public Citizen’s Health Research Group and is a fellow of the National Academy of Medicine.

References
1.
US Food and Drug Administration. Coronavirus (COVID-19) supply chain update. February 27, 2020. Accessed March 24, 2020. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/coronavirus-covid-19-supply-chain-update
2.
Oehler  RL , Gompf  SG .  Shortcomings in the US pharmaceutical supply chain: potential risks associated with international manufacturing and trade-related tariffs.   JAMA. Published online March 16, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.1634PubMedGoogle Scholar
3.
Medicine Use and Spending in the United States: A Review of 2018 and Outlook to 2023. Published May 2019. Accessed March 23, 2020. https://www.iqvia.com/insights/the-iqvia-institute/reports/medicine-use-and-spending-in-the-us-a-review-of-2018-and-outlook-to-2023
4.
Ferguson  NM , Laydon  D , Nedjati-Gilani  G ,  et al; Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team. Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID-19 mortality and healthcare demand. Published March 16, 2020. Accessed March 23, 2020. https://www.imperial.ac.uk/media/imperial-college/medicine/sph/ide/gida-fellowships/Imperial-College-COVID19-NPI-modelling-16-03-2020.pdf
5.
Erman  M . J&J’s Tylenol production at maximum capacity as coronavirus boosts demand. Reuters. March 19, 2020. Accessed March 23, 2020. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-johnson-johnson/jjs-tylenol-production-at-maximum-capacity-as-coronavirus-boosts-demand-idUSKBN2162FU
6.
Marchione  M . Malaria drugs’ promise for coronavirus spurs hope, shortages. New York Times. Published March 23, 2020. Accessed March 23, 2020. https://apnews.com/2f3dd1099c6054bb5015391b9a6f3b0c
7.
World Health Organization Model List of Essential Medicines: 21st List 2019. World Health Organization; 2019. Accessed March 23, 2020. https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/325771/WHO-MVP-EMP-IAU-2019.06-eng.pdf?ua=1
8.
McKesson’s response to coronavirus (COVID-19). Posted March 20, 2020. Accessed March 24, 2020. https://www.mckesson.com/About-McKesson/Coronavirus-Response/
9.
CVS Health announces additional COVID-19 resources focused on patient access: latest enhancements will help prevent interruption of medication availability. March 9, 2020. Accessed March 24, 2020. https://cvshealth.com/newsroom/press-releases/cvs-health-announces-additional-covid-19-resources-focused-patient-access
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