04 May 2022

Drugs in short supply caused by the COVID 19 Pandemic: What we did

Drugs in short supply caused by the COVID 19 Pandemic: What we did

In March 2020 we witnessed the collapse of international supply chains as the pandemic reaction kicked in. As the global healthcare demand suddenly increased, drug availability began to dry up.

Potential Coronavirus drugs that were in short supply included: propofol, a sedative given to those on ventilation; fentanyl and alfentanil, two opioid painkillers used as part of the sedative cocktail in intensive care; and clonidine, used to treat extremely low blood pressure.

When the finished dose form drugs become scarce, manufacturing units throughout the world jump in to fill the gap. They make batches of unlicensed versions of the items in demand. Since late February 2020, Active Pharma Supplies has been at the forefront of supplying these manufacturers with the essential materials needed to make vital lifesaving medicines. Using our established global network of manufacturers and distributors, we searched high and low for just small amounts of remaining batches that had not yet been sold.

One such material was Noradrenaline, used to treat life-threateningly low blood pressure in COVID ICU patients across the country. Active Pharma Supplies were directly approached to import the API on behalf of selected NHS manufacturing units responding to the pandemic’s impact. However, the strict lockdown in China meant that limited flights were leaving, and whilst material was available, there were no transport options to bring it in. We contacted the Chamber of Commerce with the absurd optimism that dedicated flights were being sanctioned for the UK COVID response and to request if anyone in Government could help. Thankfully they could, as our request reached the office of The Secretary of State for International trade, and later that same evening we were contacted by the UK Embassy in Shanghai who we liaised with to organise the shipment on a flight that was at best weeks earlier than previously hoped.

How important was this work? Well we asked an NHS client what it meant.

“There is a licensed product available in vials—but in very limited supply. Plus there is the time saved for the nursing staff who can administer the drug quickly-the drug is used to regulate blood pressure, without this item on ITU the patient will die (Apologies if that may appear blunt - but that is the reality of the situation).”

We are very proud to say that many critical materials were supplied during this time as we collaborated very closely with the our global network of partners, The Department of Trade and Industry, North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, The UK Embassy in China, and the British Indian High Commission to deliver materials in a significantly reduced transit times.

We are specialists in supplying raw materials and repacking services for the pharmaceutical industry. All orders small and large are treated with the same attention.