/publications/issue/2008/2008-10/2008-10-8706

Rx Response Steps Up When Disaster Strikes

Author: Kathleen Jaeger, GPhA President and Chief Executive Officer


Hurricanes, severe flooding, and other natural disasters have taken their toll on communities not only in the United States, but around the world. Responding to these natural disasters often requires a massive effort,with participation from a multitude of public and private organizations. There is no doubt that the members of the pharmaceutical supply chain are critical participants in the response.

A Collaborative Effort

This is why the Rx Response initiative is so important. Rx Response, a consortium of brand and generic pharmaceutical and biotech manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors, and dispensers, as well as government organizations, was formed to ensure that patients are able to access the medicines they need in a time of crisis. For many Americans whose lives have been turned upside down as a result of the force of Mother Nature, having necessary medicines available is truly a matter of life or death.

In the past, when the pharmaceutical supply chain was disrupted, there was no single forum for suppliers to convene, share information, and respond. Now, Rx Response will help support information sharing among partners, community volunteer relief organizations, and local, state, and federal agencies reacting to major disasters to help facilitate the continued delivery of critical medicines and, where possible, address logistical challenges. This communication is directed through a Webbased information-sharing and problemsolving forum.

How Rx Response Works

The program is activated when responding to severe domestic public health emergencies?when existing emergency relief plans and service programs are disrupted?to help assist partner organizations in their individual response activities. For example, a disaster declared by a governor or the president may initiate Rx Response program engagement. Other situations warranting initiation, as determined by Rx Response, may also activate the program. Whereas public health emergencies are determined on a case-by-case basis, there are a number of existing mechanisms that will be used to help guide decision making:

To be certain that the pharmaceutical sector is prepared for these situations, Rx Response has run several successful simulations to test response mechanisms and is working continuously to improve and enhance its network. In doing so, Rx Response has been proactively reaching out to state emergency responders, strategizing on how to effectively communicate the consortium?s capabilities to provide needed products, and increasing informationsharing awareness.

Working together, we can help to ensure that patients will have timely access to needed medications in times of crisis. We hope that Rx Response will not need to be activated regularly, but patients should know that the pharmaceutical supply chain stands ready to respond when called to action.