Jan 28, 2020

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.

By the numbers: 13% of all facilities that make ingredients for drugs sold in the U.S. are located in China, and 85% of medicines in the U.S. strategic national stockpile use some component that comes from China.

Yes, but: Most drugmakers have more than one supplier for the ingredients they need for each medicine.

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World coronavirus updates: Recoveries exceed 300,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

China has lifted its lockdown of Wuhan, where the novel coronavirus outbreak was first reported, as other governments around the world tighten restrictions to stop the spread. Global recoveries surpassed 300,000 on Tuesday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed over 82,000 people and infected 1.4 million others globally as of Tuesday, per Johns Hopkins data. Spain has reported the most cases outside the U.S. (more than 141,000) and Italy the most deaths (over 17,000) as half the planet's population is now on lockdown.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health

Scoop: Coronavirus threatens shortages of about 150 drugs

A medical worker in Beijing. Photo: Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images

About 150 prescription drugs — including antibiotics, generics and some branded drugs without alternatives — are at risk of shortage if the coronavirus outbreak in China worsens, according to two sources familiar with a list of at-risk drugs compiled by the Food and Drug Administration.

Why it matters: China is a huge supplier of the ingredients used to make drugs that are sold in the U.S. If the virus decreases China's production capability, Americans who rely on the drugs made from these ingredients could be in trouble.

Go deeperArrowFeb 23, 2020 - Health

Coronavirus stress tests drug industry's dependence on China

A Hong Kong commuter wears a face mask. Photo: Miguel Candela/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

It's unclear whether the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus will actually result in prescription drug shortages, but it has undoubtedly highlighted the potential vulnerabilities of having the supply chain for American drugs so dependent on China.

Driving the news: About 150 prescription drugs — including antibiotics, generics and some branded drugs without alternatives — are at risk of shortage if the coronavirus outbreak in China worsens, per two sources familiar with a list of at-risk drugs compiled by the Food and Drug Administration.

Go deeperArrowFeb 24, 2020 - Health