Supply chain leaders met with the president at the White House as part of the COVID-19 Supply Chain Task Force
President Trump held a meeting at the White House on Sunday, March 29, with the leaders of several supply chain distributors and shipping companies as part of the COVID-19 Supply Chain Task Force.
Med/surg supply chain leaders who participated were:
- Brad Connett, president, U.S. Medical Group, Henry Schein
- Mike Kaufmann, CEO of Cardinal Health
- Charlie Mills, CEO of Medline Industries Inc.
- Ed Pesicka, president and CEO of Owens & Minor
- Brian Tyler, CEO of McKesson
“We’re waging a war against an invisible enemy,” said Trump. “We are grateful for your tremendous partnership – it’s been incredible – and the work you’ve done so far.”
Each supply chain representative was given an opportunity to provide an update. The following were comments made by the med/surg leaders at the press conference.
Connett thanked President Trump and his administration for working with Henry Schein on a number of collaborative fronts. “No. 1, we’ve all talked about PPE products – that’s critical, and it’s not just to the hospitals,” Connett said. “It’s a must to the hospitals, but it’s really to all healthcare providers that are working on the front line. Our commitment is to get it to the hot spots, and get it to the care providers who are taking care of those patients. It’s absolutely key.”
Second, Connett said the task force talked about the importance of buying American-made products, and getting manufacturing and resources back in America. “It’s a lesson to be learned from where we are.”
Connett also spoke about the importance of more rapid tests to detect COVID-19. As of press time, Henry Schein helped bring two products into the market. The first is an antibody rapid blood test, known as Standard Q COVID-19 IgM/IgG Rapid Test, intended to be administered at the point of care. According to the healthcare company, the test delivers results within 15 minutes from a pinprick with no instrumentation required.
Henry Schein will also serve as the exclusive distributor in the United States of a second point-of-care rapid test kit that can detect antibodies associated with COVID-19 in as few as 15 minutes.
Working with BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company) and BioMedomics, a North Carolina-based clinical diagnostics company, Henry Schein will make the test kits available to health care professionals as part of the company’s broad offering of point-of-care rapid tests.
Tyler said collaboration between the government agencies and medical suppliers has been key. “I’d certainly like to echo my colleagues’ comments that the collaboration amongst many of the government agencies and the private market, including the distributors represented here today, has been incredible, and has been increasing and ramping up over the past few weeks.”
During his remarks, Tyler referenced an innovative public-private partnership called Project Airbridge, where FEMA and other government agencies will coordinate 50-plus air cargo flights in a span of two to three weeks. Each flight will bring tons of medical supplies to the U.S., directly to the cities where it is most needed. “Today the first delivery of Project Airbridge is evidence that it’s working. The 51 flights the president referenced, we’re excited about. We look to build upon that. So, I would echo my thanks for your leadership, and certainly to the staffs for the terrific partnership and the commitment to protect the people we think about most often, which are the people on the front lines providing care.”
Tyler also offered a word of thanks on behalf of all the CEOs present at the task force meeting to the teams of each organization “that continue to show up in warehouses across the country, in pharmacies across the country, and do their jobs to keep the supply chain going. The supply chain is working, it’s resilient, and though supply is a challenge, we’re tackling that.”
Owens & Minor
Pesicka said Owens & Minor is leveraging its manufacturing capabilities in America, specifically in North Carolina, to ramp up production. “We did hear the challenge, and starting in January we’ve ramped up our production in the Americas, including our facility in North Carolina where we are now manufacturing an additional 40 to 50 million masks per month to get into the U.S. healthcare system.”
Pesicka said the task force talked about the massive demand increase in PPE supplies. “I used an anecdotal example of one hospital in New York that traditional uses roughly 10,000 to 20,000 masks a week is now using 200,000 to 300,000 masks a week. So you multiply that times the entire U.S., let alone the same demand outside of the U.S., and that’s part of the issue we are running into. Even with a significant ramp up in supply, there is still a demand that is much greater.”
Kaufmann thanked the president for his leadership. “Because of that leadership, we’ve seen the government agencies working with industry like no time before,” Kaufmann said. “We’ve seen HHS, FEMA, and the CDC work effectively with all of the distributors. And all of the distributors are working together for the good of the people. All of us have been so focused on making sure we take care of our customers because our customers are the ones taking care of the patients every day. We need to do everything we can to make things good for them.”
In his remarks at the press conference, Mills said the demand for supplies has skyrocketed. “We’re doing a lot of things to bring in more masks and other protective apparel,” he said. “We are involved in reprocessing masks. We’ve already started reprocessing about 100,000 masks per day. We hope to expand from there, so we’re quite optimistic about it.”