By Patrick Thornton, “Anderson Thornton Consultants”

As the virus, COVID-19, spreads throughout the world, the United States should and is taking this threat seriously. After several weeks following the publicized outbreak, the US has 75,000 COVID-19 testing kits. Considering how this virus spreads and those that are most at risk (the elderly and those with compromised immune systems) 75,000 kits appears to be a very small step considering we are a country of 331 million people. Having a limited number of testing kits is problematic, yet a bigger challenge is the disruption of the US pharmaceutical supply chain.

Currently, 80% of the active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) are manufactured in China. These ingredients are vital elements in the production of many common medications. Some of these medications include; blood pressure drugs, allergy drugs, cancer drugs, statins, antibiotics, psychotropic drugs and many more. The picture shows pollution levels in China prior the virus outbreak and now. Many APIs are not being produced as China works to gain the upper hand in controlling the virus.

It is concerning that China has significant control over the production of these APIs. Just as concerning is the lack of regulation that exists in these pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities.

Part of our global security strategy needs to incorporate more control over the production of the APIs needed to produce prescriptions. As the government becomes more involved in healthcare, partnerships with the private sector will be increasingly  important. Developing alternate supply chains for APIs will go a long way to stave off similar issues in the future.

Patrick Thornton is a former HCA Hospital CFO and currently works as a risk management consultant for health insurance plans. He is passionate about the healthcare delivery system and helping employers find solutions to the rising costs of health insurance.