Will U.S. Drug Shortages Grow Even Worse?

drug shortages

2020 has been one of THOSE years.

Now we face drug shortages. That includes many pharmaceuticals .including those used to treat Covid-19.

Across the U.S. and Europe, 29 out of 40 drugs used to combat the coronavirus are  in short supply.

Experts expect drug shortages will grow worse as Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations surge in winter months.

This bad news is from a new report by the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota.   

The problem is made worse by the structure of the global supply chain.  

It is heavily dependent on China for active pharmaceutical ingredients and on drug manufacturers based in India.

The report stated that 43% — or 67 of 156 — of acute care medicines are running low. The drug shortages include antibiotics, blood thinners and sedatives. The researchers see a real possibility of a five-fold jump in demand for midazolam, a commonly used sedative. A muscle relaxant known as cisatracurium could see demand jump tenfold.

These drugs were in short supply in the spring as Covid-19 cases in the New York area skyrocketed.

Here’s why these scientists are so worried about drug shortages.

In the spring, there was just one hot spot – the New York City area. Nationwide supplies were shifted to that region to meet the medical need.

This time around, the virus is everywhere. What happens if there are 25 hot spots nationwide? Or 50? Or more?

If many surges take place at the same time, we will lose the ability to shift supplies around, as happened in the spring.

Michael Osterholm is director of CIDRAP and co-principal investigator of the center’s Resilient Drug Supply Project. He said, “The supply chain has already been stressed over the past few years, but as we go through the fall and into the winter, we’re going to have some real challenges,” thanks to Covid-19.

The Big News

Companies Thriving Amid the Pandemic

Some companies did well in the third quarter thanks to the pandemic. Companies whose sales boomed in the third quarter include: Chipotle, Procter & Gamble, Whirlpool, Electrolux, Albertsons and Reckett Benckiser Group. The sectors varied from food to personal products to appliances to cleaning and disinfecting supplies.

The Men’s Grooming Zoom Boom

Men do care what they look like. The men’s grooming and skin care market in the U.S. generated about $9 billion in annual sales pre-pandemic. Now it is gaining momentum thanks to the pandemic and Zoom. All the Zooming is making men more aware of their natural imperfections. Grooming tutorials aimed at male executives are sprouting like weeds.  

Harvard Researcher Says Covid Claimed Millions of Years of Life

Geneticist Stephen Elledge came up with a remarkable Covid number. The Harvard researcher added up the number of years that Americans who died from Covid-19 might have lived had they reached a typical life expectancy. The report concluded that the virus had claimed more than 2.5 million years of potential life in the United States.

Remdesivir Becomes First FDA-Approved Covid Drug

Gilead has received the first U.S. regulatory approval for a Covid-19 drug. The Food and Drug Administration approved its antiviral remdesivir for patients hospitalized with the disease. The antiviral was already being used to treat patients under an emergency use authorization. It was one of the drugs President Trump was given when he had Covid-19. Trials have shown that remdesivir can speed up recovery, but it has shown little effect on mortality.                

Moderna Finishes Enrollment for Phase III Trial

Moderna became the first U.S. company to complete enrollment of its phase 3 Covid-19 vaccine trial. It recruited 30,000 participants including thousands of healthcare workers, ethnic minorities and older people. These are groups that are more likely to be exposed or develop a serious illness from the virus. About 22% work in healthcare and more than one-third were from ethnic minority backgrounds. About 7,000 were over age 65 and 5,000 had high-risk chronic diseases.             

The Coronavirus Numbers

Here are the numbers from Friday at 8 a.m. ET from Johns Hopkins University:

  • 41,791,766 Infected Worldwide
  • 1,138,671 Deaths Worldwide
  • 8,411,262 Infected in the U.S.
  • 223,059 Deaths in the U.S.

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What’s Next

President Trump and former Vice-President Joe Biden clashed over coronavirus in the final election debate. However, I doubt the debate will have much effect on markets or the election outcome.

What is important for markets – in addition to the Fed – is more fiscal stimulus.

Wall Street is looking for a new swell of fiscal spending that will boost corporate profits  and patch over the many weak spots in our economy.

There seems to be a “working assumption” among institutional investors that further fiscal stimulus measures would be approved quickly after the election regardless of who wins.

That’s why markets haven’t reacted badly to the lack of a stimulus package from Congress.

Yesterday’s lackluster trading session seemed to be a “blast from the past.”

Ford, American Airlines, Bank of America and General Electric rose 3% to 5% each, while Apple and some other tech stocks fell.

I don’t expect that to continue for very long. Growth stocks will continue to rule the roost.

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Yours in Health & Wealth,

Tony Daltorio

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