COVID-19 has put a spotlight on health product supply chains, highlighting the challenges in multiple steps in the global supply chain. This paper seeks to understand the impact of COVID-19 on the supply chain of a subset of essential medicines. It identifies the main categories of blockages in the global supply chain created by COVID-19, then uses data on trade flows, wholesalers, and pharma companies, and from surveys, to track the impact.
There was significant short-term disruption to manufacturing caused by COVID-19. Surveys, pharmacy, and export data indicate that COVID-related disruptions impacted the supply of essential medicines, but this varied greatly by markets and product.
The paper highlights that (1) data-driven approaches should be considered to make supply chains more robust, (2) solutions must account for the political and institutional landscape, (3) price surges benefit the wealthiest, and (4) local solutions are often needed to manage global shocks.
More research is needed, particularly into how to obtain granular data to track supply shocks in real time? How do we increase surge capacity? Is it possible to improve procurement practices through pooled procurement, where applicable? And can pharmaceutical production be diversified, with products produced regionally to limit the risk of disruption?
This project was led by CGD but involved many partners whose research fed into our work. Bryden Wood, IQVIA, Maisha Meds, and Tala Consult, and independent consultants Portia Liang, Florian Poli, and Richa Udayana, all contributed papers, available at the links below.
Press and data scan, Chinese active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) exports
Press and data scan, Indian manufacturing of finished products
Post-COVID-19 health commodity shortage tracking using the Maisha Meds network and Indian export data
Legal restrictions on exports of APIs and medicines, and travel disruptions caused by COVID
Survey of medicine wholesalers
Survey of central medical stores
Medicine shortages detection model
Assessing alternatives for the expansion of medicine production in sub-Saharan Africa
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