It's not just money, medicine too! : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

It seems the message about not stockpiling is spreading to many parts of the system.

To go along with Diane's earlier post Food And Drug Administration (FDA) Working On Y2K Pharmaceutical And Biotech Industry Awareness (Report) (Diane J. Squire,, 1999-02-25)


Stop Stockpiling!

Consumer concerns and overreactions may pose the biggest Y2K threat to pharmacies and suppliers FROM: DRUG TOPICS; Chains & Business; February 15, 1999

Each link of the pharmaceutical supply chain is prepared for the much publicized--but still undetermined--computer glitches that could arise on Jan. 1, 2000, according to an array of speakers at the Y2K Supply Chain Conference held late last month in Newark, N.J. The question is: Is the industry prepared for how consumers might prepare themselves? Representatives from wholesalers, manufacturers, and the chain drug industry all reported that their respective organizations have made plans to deal with potential problems--internally. With equal unanimity, however, they also agree they will not be able to keep up with demand if patients start hoarding prescription products as 1999 wears on. "While we're prepared for some increase, a total panic buy would probably result in exactly what we're all afraid of--that patients will not be able to get medicines when they go to get their prescriptions filled," admitted Anne Faul, director of trade relations for manufacturer Glaxo Wellcome. And the implications of such a scenario, she said, would have a dramatic ripple effect on the entire year. "I get concerned when I think about what's going to happen for the rest of 2000. If we have this huge stockpiling taking place [among patients], ... it causes a forecast nightmare for a manufacturer," she explained. Annual forecasting drives all phases of production, from ordering raw materials to scheduling the manufacturing itself. Hoarding, or stockpiling, at the end of 1999 would make it extremely difficult for drugmakers to determine what demand will be months down the road. Unfortunately, the ebb and flow of manufacturing cycles only complicate the matter further. Production drops dramatically at the end of the calendar year, according to Steve Perlowski, director-industry affairs for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. (Perlowski was unable to attend the conference, but his remarks were presented by moderator Bob McHugh of Bischoff & Gaffney Associates, which hosted the meeting.) Perlowski said that companies make time at the end of the year to clean equipment and do preventive maintenance before starting the process anew. The timing could not be worse if hoarding does occur among patients, according to Doug Long, v.p. of trade relations for IMS Health, a consulting company. Long told conference attendees the amount of product in the supply-chain pipeline tends to be at its lowest in December. "If there is a hoarding mentality, it will be [at] the time when months' supply is at the lower point for the year," he explained. Actually, Long said, recent supply-chain history indicates that the industry may have gotten too efficient for its own good in this situation. "Inventories are running a lot leaner than they have in the past," he pointed out. From 1989 to 1991, the average supply of product inventory in the supply pipeline was approximately 1.2 months. Last year, it was down to approximately one month's supply. Those who advocate stockpiling--among them, the Red Cross--have suggested that patients keep up to three months' worth of product on hand. "It would be safe to say that pharmaceutical shortages and hoarding have the potential to exist," Long said. "It's unclear what the consumer is going to do." In fact, several of the speakers said independently that consumers' expectations will be the determining factor in how the industry fares at the dawn of the new millennium. "Perception is going to drive the events leading up to the year 2000," explained Gary Loeb, v.p.-inventory management for wholesaler McKesson Corp. "If people believe there will be a disruption, then there will be a disruption." Since the basic question--how consumers will behave--is unanswerable, potential solutions are elusive. The most promising one may be fighting the perception battle that Loeb referred to. Glaxo Wellcome's Faul and NACDS' Perlowski both emphasized that each segment of the supply chain must be responsible for getting the word out that the hoarding of pharmaceutical products poses the biggest threat to uninterrupted availability of prescription products. Perlowski, through moderator McHugh, suggested that a public relations and education campaign is an immediate need--and may be the industry's best hope. "People react out of their perceptions and create reality," he said. "Let's assure American consumers that there will be an adequate supply of essential goods available through the current distribution system and discourage significant stockpiling."


-- Mike (, February 25, 1999


I have two examples to share regarding pharmaceuticals and Y2K. Or three. My friend Faith-Weaver (a long time poster here) works for a large mental health agency in Pennsylvania. The parent...a university hospital system has asked its financial people for large lump sum to stock and store year's supply of the types of medications they regularly dispense. Next, sister is a pharmacist with a corporation that supplies meds to 4000 convalescent care/nursing care facilities in N. Illinois. They are at work to stock and store emergency supplies of meds.

Faith has said that finding out information about pharmaceutical companies' Y2K compliance is about the most difficult on the net...they are very closed with information....

My two inhalers-worth.

-- Donna Barthuley (, February 25, 1999.

If these agencies would have planned for Y2K years ago, no one would have to store anything. "A lack of responsibility on their part constitutes an emergency on my part." Bardou

-- bardou (, February 26, 1999.

I agree, Bardou. The whining by this particular private industry is pathetic. They could ramp up production if they wanted to, but that would hurt their precious bottom line.

-- Brooks (, February 26, 1999.

Merck, which I believe is the largest maker of ethical drugs said in the Wall Street Journal about 3 weeks ago that the industry is currently so highly efficient that it really could not ramp up production. The spokesman said that if people hoard drugs in the last quarter of 1999, then some people will go without medication, regardless of any y2k glitches.

-- Puddintame (, February 26, 1999.

Stock up NOW with multi-vitamins. Choose those with the latest expiration dates. (Some are now available with 2003 expiration dates.) If your stored food ages and looses vital nutrients, then plan on swallowing supplemental vitamin supplements. If you don't have stored vitamins, then grow fresh vegetables and fruits and grains to obtain them! :)

-- dinosaur (, February 26, 1999.

This just says to me "Save problems - panic early", if people store throughout the year rather than all trying to load up in Dec, wouldn't that alleviate the problem for the drug companies?

-- Tricia the Canuck (, February 27, 1999.

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