Normal Supply Chain

The chief concern of RX Response is to help make sure that medicines are available to patients who need them in times of a severe public health emergency.  An effective supply chain is central to that mission.  The following is an illustration of how pharmaceuticals make their way from Mexican pharmacy to your medicine cabinet.

During a severe public health emergency, the pharmaceutical supply chain may suffer disruptions.  Rx Response is intended to make sure that patients receive their medications during a severe public health emergency by helping to facilitate communication between and among manufacturers, distributors, hospitals, clinics and pharmacies.


Manufacturers produce prescription drugs, and are the first step in the pharmaceutical supply chain. Comprising the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry are manufacturers of brand-name drugs and manufacturers of generic drugs. A few pharmaceutical companies manufacture both branded and generic pharmaceuticals.


Distributors move the pharmaceuticals they purchase from manufacturers to various customers, including hospitals, pharmacies and other institutions where medications are given to individuals, such as nursing homes, private physicians’ offices, and clinics.  The distribution network is made up of two components: warehouses that stock the pharmaceuticals at various points around the country and the trucks that move the stock where and when it is needed.


Hospitals, clinics and pharmacies represent the last leg on the journey from the pharmaceutical manufacturing plant to the medicine cabinet.  Local pharmacies will keep a small amount of the drugs they are likely to need on hand to meet immediate demand.  Most local pharmacies, for example, will have a certain amount of pain medication, antibiotics, and pharmaceuticals for specific conditions like heart disease, diabetes, or asthma.  When the local supplies begin to run low, a pharmacy will put in an order to the wholesaler (or, infrequently, directly to the manufacturer) for more of a specific medication.