Medical device manufacturers are calling on federal officials to help mitigate disruptions to the supply chain following Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico after making landfall on Sept. 20. In a letter, AdvaMed, a trade group that represents more than 20 medical technology manufacturers on the island, asked the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) to “prioritize” medical device manufacturers as power and communications services are restored.
“We want to make sure we’re in the queue in terms of priority,” Greg Crist, a spokesman for AdvaMed, told The New York Times. “Because if there is an electricity shortage well into November, for example, how can we as an industry make sure we are in line for those priorities, once you’ve taken care of hospitals and essential needs?”
Puerto Rico is home to about 30 plants that make medical devices, according to CNN, producing everything from heart valves, pacemakers, and defibrillators to advanced cancer diagnostics.
With major news outlets reporting that roughly 90 percent of the U.S. commonwealth remained without power two weeks after the storm, medical device companies continue to confront a range of obstacles, according to The New York Times. Issues include locating enough diesel fuel for generators to run factories, helping employees get to work from areas where roads are damaged and blocked, and restoring the power grid and phone lines.
“Even the facilities that sustained relatively minor damage are running on generator power,” Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. “They could be without commercial power for months while crews work to restore stable power to the island. The generators allowed many facilities to re-start production, but certainly not all.”
The FDA assured industry – and the public – that getting Puerto Rico’s medical device and pharmaceutical manufacturers back online was a top priority.
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