About the program

What is Rx Response?

Rx Response was created to help ensure the continued flow of medicine to patients during a severe public health emergency, including a natural disaster, a large-scale terrorist attack or an influenza pandemic. Rx Response is a single point of contact for the entire bio-pharmaceutical supply chain and coordinates a robust network of partners providing information designed to help federal and state emergency management officials and public health officials to communicate bio-pharmaceutical needs and other issues impacting the supply chain.

The Rx Response program is:

  • A multi-party, private-sector driven, closed-system (non-public) coalition to share information and, as appropriate, address bio-pharmaceutical supply chain issues during a public health emergency
  • A means to support individual sectors/parties’ first-line emergency response
  • A conduit for sharing appropriate bio-pharmaceutical supply chain best practices and making the bio-pharmaceutical supply chain more resilient
  • A collective medium to work with government agencies to address barriers to critical medicine delivery
  • A source of information on the status of the bio-pharmaceutical supply system for state and federal agencies including, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
  • A purveyor of organized intelligence
  • Applicable to medicines only

The Rx Response program is not:

  • A source of medical advice, healthcare or prescriptions (only medical providers that are licensed and authorized to write prescriptions can provide this service)
  • A pharmacy, distributor or dispenser of medicines
  • A decision-making body for individual industry partners
  • A one-stop shop for pandemic information
  • A source of information on inventory of medicines
  • A public call center

Who are the primary Rx Response members?

Members include trade organizations that represent the complete bio-pharmaceutical supply chain along with the American Red Cross.




Disaster / Relief Organizations

What other agencies or groups are partners of the Rx Response program?

Federal, state and local government agencies that respond to public health emergencies are an essential component of Rx Response’s information-sharing network. In addition, Rx Response works with a broad variety of organizations to address complex or large-scope issues, including developing national pharmacy guidance, among other bio-pharmaceutical supply chain issues.

What interactions does Rx Response have with government agencies?

Rx Response works in active partnership with numerous federal agencies and state public health and emergency management agencies. Since its creation, Rx Response has engaged with dozens of state public health and emergency management leaders to establish a relationship prior to an emergency.

At the federal level, Rx Response has a leadership role in the Healthcare Sector Coordinating Council (HSCC), a public-private partnership created by the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services to increase coordination between the government and the private sector in addressing protection of public health and healthcare as part of the critical infrastructure of the United States.

Rx Response is also a member of the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) Forum on Medical and Public Health Preparedness for Catastrophic Events.

Who initiated the Rx Response program?

The Rx Response project was initiated by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. PhRMA is the trade association representing the country’s leading bio-pharmaceutical research and manufacturing companies.

What were the specific lessons from Hurricane Katrina that inspired the creation of Rx Response?

Following Hurricane Katrina, there was no single point of contact for emergency managers and relief agencies to contact the bio-pharmaceutical supply chain. As a result, efforts to deliver donated supplies and other material were disjointed and in many cases, bio-pharmaceutical companies received multiple requests for the same products or materials.

Another example of insufficient coordination in the aftermath of Katrina was the inability of supply trucks bringing donated materials to get through security check points. In these cases, there was no process to contact security personnel to alert them that relief supplies would be passing through check points. Rx Response now provides a means to potentially resolve issues related to transportation and credentialing that could arise during a response to a public health emergency.

What are the most important benefits of Rx Response’s planning efforts?

First and foremost, Rx Response helps ease communication between emergency managers and public health officials and the bio-pharmaceutical supply chain. For example, instead of a public or private emergency response organization having to contact dozens of bio-pharmaceutical companies or multiple distributors, pharmacies, and hospitals, Rx Response is a trusted, single point of contact enabling streamlined communications between the public and private sectors.

In addition, Rx Response helps create greater resilience among the individual companies that comprise the bio-pharmaceutical supply system by promoting a greater understanding of the supply system’s potential weak points when stressed by a major disaster. Among Rx Response’s greatest contributions to emergency preparedness is the comprehensive but concise situational awareness report that provides federal and state officials with up to date assessments of bio-pharmaceutical supply chain during public health emergencies.

Is Rx Response for domestic or global disasters?

Rx Response’s focus has been on domestic (United States) planning in the face of a public health emergency, such as a major natural disaster, bioterrorism event, or pandemic. However, to the extent that global disasters can impact the U.S. supply system, Rx Response carefully monitors these threats and takes necessary actions to protect the U.S. supply chain.

Rx Response Activation and Response

Where can I find specific information about a current public health emergency?

When activated, to find specific information about a current emergency, click on the operational status graphic on the Rx Response main page. Helpful information about emergencies can also be found at www.redcross.org and www.FEMA.gov.

What types of emergencies constitute a potential Rx Response activation?

While Rx Response continuously monitors potential threats to the normal supply of medicines, Rx Response actively responds when a public health emergency occurs, such as a severe natural disaster, large-scale terrorist attack, or a pandemic. When disasters occur, or threaten, the Rx Response Coordinating Body closely monitors the situation and performs ongoing assessments to determine when activation may be warranted. The Coordinating Body makes the activation decision on a case-by-case basis and uses the following criteria to help guide decision–making:

  • Disaster declaration by a Governor or the President
  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Threat Advisory Red/Severe Classification
  • Health and well-being of a significant number of persons is materially threatened or affected
  • Local, regional, national or global healthcare infrastructure is significantly compromised
  • The ability to provide ample bio-pharmaceuticals in sufficient quantities or in a timely fashion is challenged
  • The underlying emergency dynamics are not quickly or simply resolved (e.g. within several days or through normal business practices by individual companies)
  • Greater-than-normal requests by the media or government partners for information regarding the bio-pharmaceutical supply chain
  • Other situations warranting a response as determined by the respective decision-making bodies within the represented bio-pharmaceutical industry groups

Is Rx Response trying to replace government emergency systems?

Not at all. Medicines are a key component in an emergency; Rx Response organizes the private-sector bio-pharmaceutical supply chain in order to communicate and conduct its response efforts most efficiently in coordination with federal, state, and local governments. As such, government and first-responder efforts are enhanced and carry the benefit of partnership with an organized, united, and integral sector of the United States’ critical infrastructure.

Will the Rx Response program actually be delivering prescriptions to patients who need them in a major disaster?

No. Rx Response’s primary focus is to ensure that communication channels between the bio-pharmaceutical supply system and government remain as clear and open as possible. This enables the most efficient communications and the fastest possible resolution of obstacles to the flow of medicines to patients. Rx Response partners with other agencies and industries involved in dispensing prescriptions, but Rx Response does not dispense medicines directly to patients.

Are all medicines included in the Rx Response effort or is it only emergency medicines? What are the essential medicines that Rx Response will be focusing on during an emergency?

The term “medicine” encompasses a broad range of products, including prescription medicines needed to treat those injured in a severe public health emergency, as well as those needed to treat chronic conditions. Rx Response officials realize that a major public health emergency not only has the potential to increase demand for medicines to treat disaster-related injuries but it may also disrupt the flow of critical medicines needed to sustain treatment of chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, kidney disease, and other illnesses. Rx Response will not attempt to define, limit or specify these medicines, but will work to respond to the requests of all its partners equally during an emergency.

Rx Response Communication and Collaboration During a Public Health Emergency

How do Rx Response members communicate during an actual event?

The Rx Response Coordinating Body and Support Team operate from a central operations center located in Washington, D.C., unless the event affects this location, in which case a new location will be determined. In addition to the operations center, Rx Response participants also communicate virtually through conference calls, automated notification tools and an online communication forum- InfoCenter.

What does the Rx Response InfoCenter forum consist of?

The online communication forum has both a public website, as well as a private members-only website for Rx Response. The public site is the Rx Response website, rxresponse.cdmail.biz, which provides general information about Rx Response and its resources, including Rx Open and Rx On the Run. The private, password protected site, referred to as InfoCenter and available at http://infocenter.rxresponse.cdmail.biz, provides more detailed and interactive communication tools for relevant Rx Response partners.

How does someone request access to InfoCenter?

If a person has not been granted access to the InfoCenter site, they can go to the InfoCenter login page and select the link titled “Request Access to rxresponse.cdmail.biz InfoCenter.” Once they input the appropriate information and click the “Request Access” button to submit their request, it will be reviewed by an Administrator and the individual will be emailed within 36 hours to notify them if their request was granted or denied.

Rx Response typically grants access to InfoCenter to the following:

  • Rx Response member organization representatives
  • Rx Response trade association member company representatives
  • Local / state / federal public health or emergency management officials
  • National association representatives involved in public health response