Feb 7, 2020 - Health

Senators question coronavirus' impact on U.S. drug supplies

A Thai surgical mask factory, producing 10 million masks a month, increased working hours to cope with the rising demand following an outbreak of SARS-like virus in China. Photo: Jonathan Klein/AFP via Getty Images

Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) sent a letter Thursday to the Food and Drug Administration asking for assurance that the coronavirus won't affect the supply chain for American food, pharmaceuticals or medical supplies.

The big picture: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has already asked U.S. health care providers and the public to not stock up on medical masks and other supplies while the risk of coronavirus inside the U.S. remains low.

What they're saying:

"[School] closures, combined with the possibility of infected workers, could limit the ability of Chinese manufacturers to maintain the production capacity needed to keep pace with global demand. Given the strain this virus has placed on China’s healthcare system, we are concerned there could be reduced resources available to U.S. healthcare providers that rely on products manufactured in China."
— Sens. Marco Rubio and Chris Murphy

Go deeper: Coronavirus fears spark run on surgical face masks in U.S.

Go deeper

Coronavirus fears spark run on surgical face masks in U.S.

A woman wears a protective mask in New York City on Jan. 23, amid mounting fears about the spread of coronavirus. Credit: Timothy A. Clary/Getty Contributor

Despite reassurances from public health officials that Americans don't currently need to wear face masks as a precaution against coronavirus, many drug stores are selling out.

Why it matters: While it's not clear how much protection the masks offer, manufacturers are seeing a spike in demand, and the potential spread of the virus in the U.S. is being monitored closely — and spooking out a lot of people.

Go deeperArrowJan 27, 2020

Coronavirus cases rise as 14 American evacuees infected

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's NHC; Note: China refers to mainland China and the Diamond Princess is the cruise ship offshore Yokohama, Japan. Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

14 Americans evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship tested positive for the novel coronavirus before being flown in a "specialist containment" on a plane repatriating U.S. citizens back home, the U.S. government said early Monday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 1,775 people and infected more than 70,000 others. Most cases and all but five of the deaths have occurred in mainland China.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 hours ago - Health

Coronavirus outbreak fuels concerns about pharma's global supply chain

A medical worker walks out of a hospital in Wuhan, China, on Jan. 27. Photo: Feature China/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

The spread of the coronavirus in China has raised concerns about the pharmaceutical industry's global supply chain, STAT reports.

Between the lines: China produces a large portion of the ingredients used to make drugs. As the coronavirus spreads and sends China increasingly into lockdown, it's causing experts to question whether the supply chain is stable.

Go deeperArrowJan 28, 2020