Medical Supplies Plagued by Shortage

March 20, 2018
Medical Supplies Plagued by Shortage

Hurricane Maria highlighted a growing issue with medical supplies. The pharmaceutical industry is plagued by quality issues, manufacturing problems that are kept secret, and supply chain disruptions.

In previous posts, we talked about hospitals’ responses to the IV bag shortage. But according to the FDA, Hurricane Maria’s damage to the production infrastructure on Puerto Rico affected dozens of medical supplies and pharmaceuticals. Months later, 10 drugs are still in short supply.

This post is based on the CBS News article, Why so many medicines are in short supply months after Hurricane Maria, by Walecia Konrad, Feb 12, 2018. Image source: Peopleimages / Getty Images.

Discussion Questions

1. What are the considerations a pharmaceutical company should contemplate when choosing a manufacturing location?

Guidance: Students should review location analysis, manufacturing strategies, and quality management.  If there is time or perhaps a homework assignment, students could be asked to research the pharmaceutical industry for the suppliers of, and demand for, IV saline or another generic medicine.  Consider assigning a two-page report: page one is background on the locations, supply chain network, quality issues for their assigned medicine; on page two, recommendations to improve quality, change locations, identify a good sourcing strategy/partners, and mitigate supply chain network design risk.

2. Identify areas of supply chain risk and discuss recommendations to mitigate those risks.

Guidance: Students should review supply chain risks.  The discussion should quickly identify all the risks for medical supplies.  The challenge will be clearly identifying specific actions that a company may undertake to mitigate the risks.  Students should be guided to the conclusion that supply chain management risks are on-going and require constant monitoring.  At this juncture, students should identify the organizational controls required to insure monitoring occurs in a timely manner.


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