Rx Response has become an indispensable homeland security asset that offers a number of helpful resources to enable emergency managers and citizens to prepare for and respond to public health emergencies.

Supply Chain Information

An effective bio-pharmaceutical supply chain is central to ensuring the continued flow of medicine to patients following a severe public health emergency. The following information provides an overview of how the bio-pharmaceutical chain operates.

Normal Supply Chain

The illustration below depicts how bio-pharmaceutical medicines make their way from the manufacturers to patients’ medicine cabinets during periods of normal operations.

Bio-Pharmaceutical Supply Chain

Potential Supply Chain Interruptions

There are multiple routes and checkpoints as medicines move through the supply chain to patients. This begins with the raw materials and involves many components such as manufacturers, shippers, distributors, community or chain pharmacies, and prescribers. During a severe public health emergency, potential interruptions can occur at any point along this system.

Rx Response’s goal is to identify these breaks before or right after they occur and facilitate communications between the public and private sectors to develop a solution.

The Role of Manufacturers

Manufacturers, who produce prescription medicines, including brand-name, generic, and biotech medicines, are the first link in the supply chain. Once these products are manufactured, companies sell the medicine in bulk to distributors and wholesalers.

The Role of Distributors and Wholesalers

Distributors move the medicines they purchase from manufacturers to various customers, including hospitals, pharmacies, nursing homes, private physicians’ offices, and clinics. The distribution network is made up of two components: warehouses that stock the medicines in distribution centers around the country, and the trucks that transport the stock where and when it is needed.

The Role of Hospitals, Clinics, and Pharmacies (Dispensers)

Hospitals, clinics and pharmacies represent the last leg on the journey from the manufacturing to patients. Local dispensers, including pharmacies, typically keep a small amount of the medicines they are likely to need on hand to meet immediate demand. When supplies begin to run low, they will put in an order to the distributor/wholesaler (or, occasionally, directly to the manufacturer) for the medication they need.