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Stockpile Plan Wants Makers, Sellers to Store Virus Supplies

May 18, 2020, 4:06 PM

The Department of Health and Human Services is looking for input from companies on how it should restructure and resupply the Strategic National Stockpile.

The department has put out a request for information that outlines its plan for making sure there are enough ventilators, personal protective equipment, testing supplies, and other items needed for a Covid-19-like pandemic.

President Donald Trump announced the plan last week. It followed criticism of his administration over a lack of N95 respirators, ventilators, and other supplies for health-care workers and facilities.

The goals of the plan are to make sure the U.S has a sufficient reserve of necessary supplies, increase domestic manufacturing of the supplies, ensure the government can forecast demand for them, and get real-time information on what is being made and what is needed, according to the request.

Responses to the request for information are due May 29.

The HHS will be working with the Defense Department and Federal Emergency Management Agency to buy and source supplies, according to the request. The federal government is expecting that industry partners will “store and manage inventory, contract reserved capacity, and provide logistics services to allow for rapid identification of and distribution of supplies to hotspots.”

The request includes the government’s plan for where in the supply chain each type of supply needs to be stockpiled. It varies based on the supply’s shelf life, how long it takes to ramp up manufacturing, the cost to buy and store it, the cost to have a reserve, and ability to reuse it.

The current plan is to have manufacturers store ventilators and for medical supply distributors to store personal protective equipment, testing supplies, and pharmaceuticals.

The HHS is asking the health-care industry to provide information on the constraints to storing those supplies, including factors that could prevent surge manufacturing, roadblocks to domestic production, and financial barriers.

It also wants to know if there are additional supplies the government should be keeping or if there are emerging technologies like 3-D printing or blockchain that should be considered.

The initiative will also include the creation of a “supply chain IT control tower” that will allow the government to look at inventory levels across the supply chain, manufacturing capacity of companies, forecast demand, and target distribution.

To contact the reporter on this story: Shira Stein in Washington at sstein@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Fawn Johnson at fjohnson@bloomberglaw.com; Brent Bierman at bbierman@bloomberglaw.com

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