This week’s big story: Stop banning medical product exports, report says
A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine in the United States calls for an international treaty to prevent countries from banning exports of medical products, in a bid to prevent supply shortages.
The paper, called Strengthen the resilience of the country’s medical product supply chains, cites the restrictions that a number of countries have imposed on exports of medical products during the pandemic. Many of these still remain, as according to the World Trade Organization (WTO), 45 countries still had more than 70 restrictions in place in 2021, many of which applied to medical products.
The paper’s authors go on to warn that export restrictions “can be dangerously counterproductive. What makes sense in an isolated emergency can be seriously detrimental in a global crisis.”
Globalization and the pharmaceutical industry
The pandemic has highlighted how dependent countries have become on imports to ensure they can meet domestic drug demand. China produces most of the active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) needed to manufacture common drugs such as penicillin and acetaminophen. India, in turn, relies heavily on imports from China to manufacture drugs for the US market, where it is the largest supplier of generic drugs.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine also raises fears that global supply chains could be disrupted. Russia signed an executive order this week banning exports of medical products from a list of countries it has deemed “unfriendly”, including the UK, EU, Canada, New Zealand, US States, Switzerland and Japan. This ban will apply to products stored in warehouses in Russia, or which pass through customs controls.
The need for collaboration
In the paper, the authors urge the US federal government to consider a multilateral agreement with major exporters of medical products that would be overseen by the World Trade Organization (WTO). They also suggest that the WTO could impose sanctions on countries that have not joined the agreement.
The 336-page document calls for greater international cooperation to prevent supply chain disruptions. It also contains detailed recommendations to prevent national shortages, such as pharmacy teams working with hospitals to inform them of a potential shortage and suggest alternative forms of treatment.
Earlier this year, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made permanent its guidance to prevent supply shortages in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. This included requiring manufacturers to submit a notification at least six months before a product is permanently discontinued.
Also in the news:
• Google launched a new campaign featuring women entrepreneurs in Africa, including the story of Vivian Nwakah who launched Medsaf, a pharmaceutical supply chain solution to help Nigerians access quality pharmaceutical healthcare.
• Pharmaceutical Logistics IQ has launched a new survey with SkyCell to get your perspective on the issues facing pharmaceutical supply chains today and the role hybrid container solutions could play. Share your thoughts with us and enter our draw to win a $100 Amazon gift card.
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