For the first time, the US Federal Emergency Management Agency is requesting assistance from the private sector, including medical device manufacturers and distributors, in addressing critical healthcare resource supply chain and distribution challenges in light of the shortfalls experienced during the COVID-19 health crisis, and to prepare for potential future pandemics. Among the issues is the level of transparent collaboration and data-sharing that is being requested from participants.
The Trump Administration wants to leverage the Korean War-era Defense Production Act to bring device companies and other medical product suppliers together in a committee to address supply chain and distribution challenges from COVID-19 and future pandemics. Industry groups are engaging with the government agency on the concept, but they have raised some worries in the realm of antitrust and information-sharing, among other issues.
The Defense Production Act of 1950 (DPA) has been at the center of many debates related to the US response to COVID-19. On March 18, the Trump Administration issued an executive order creating the conditions for employing the DPA to prioritize and allocate health and medical resources to combat the spread of COVID-19, five days after the March 13 COVID-19 major disaster declaration for every US state, territory, the district of Columbia, and several tribes, along with a letter signed by 57 House Democrats on that same day requesting the president to invoke the Act to “begin mass production of supplies needed to address the ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.”