As the novel coronavirus continues to spread across countries, concern about the potential for disruption to the manufacture and distribution of pharmaceutical products has intensified.
These anxieties have been exacerbated by the fact that COVID-19 struck first, and worst, in China – impacting key manufacturing operations for the life sciences industry.
There followed reports from the US Food and Drug Administration that an unnamed manufacturer had notified it of a human drug shortage, although at this point no shortage has been identified for products which cannot be replaced by others.
Making matters worse, on Wednesday it was announced that the Indian government would block 26 active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and finished pharmaceutical products from being exported.
The Indian generics industry, which supplies much of the world’s medicines, is highly dependent on Chinese manufacturing for certain parts of its supply chain.
Stock markets have nosedived on fears of global disruption, and biotech stocks, even those with plans to develop COVID-19 treatments, have been affected.
However, major drugmakers have reported to The Pharma Letter that manufacturing and distribution infrastructure remain robust.
These companies are sanguine about the prospect for continued supply, while they remain diligent and alert to the potential for the situation to change.
- Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) said it was “closely monitoring product demand and supply levels,” and that it does not “foresee pharmaceutical supply interruptions related to COVID-19 at this time.”
- Israeli generics giant Teva Pharmaceutical (NYSE: TEVA) said: “We do not see an impact on the integrity of our global supply chain at this time and we continue to monitor and protect every aspect of our manufacturing and supply operations and to take steps to prevent impact.”
Teva also said it was collaborating with multiple global agencies, including the WHO, to: “see how we may provide help during this serious situation.”
- Mylan said it was “not experiencing any significant near-term impact from coronavirus,” adding “however, if the virus persists, this could change.”
- New York-based Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) Pfizer said: “As of now, we have not seen any disruption in our supply chain or impact to our business.”
The company added that it was “actively monitoring all available information,” in order to “ensure the continued supply of our important medicines to patients, and assist in the public health response efforts as we are able.”
- AstraZeneca (LSE: AZN) said: “The continued supply of our medicines to patients is of paramount importance. Currently, we are not seeing any material disruption to our operations. We are closely monitoring the situation.”
- Novartis (NOVN: VX) said: “At this time, we do not anticipate supply chain disruption due to the coronavirus outbreak. We are confident that our existing stock is sufficient to cover production/ distribution needs for the time being.”
The company added: “We have very solid processes in place to mitigate the risk of shortages, including: safety stocks, dual sourcing and business continuity plans (as applicable).”