Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

COVID-19 Outbreak Threatens U.S. Hospitals' Supply Chains

By Cory Renauer - Mar 10, 2020 at 4:05PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

Healthcare experts are warning hospital operators that the coronavirus epidemic could lead to shortages of a range of medical supplies.

Healthcare professionals responding to the COVID-19 outbreak are burning through heaps of face masks and other forms of personal protective equipment. However, since most of the medical protective gear used in the U.S. is manufactured in China, hospital operators have started telling their employees to use their supplies judiciously even if they are well-stocked at the moment.

Hand halting the coronavirus.

Image source: Getty Images.

Hospital system operators are also warning their employees to keep their eyes on supply levels of vital drugs because China is a key supplier of many active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). For example, hospitals running low on essential anesthetics that are hard to find should reschedule elective surgeries and preserve their available supplies for emergencies.

So far, the FDA has reported a shortage of just one unidentified drug sold in the U.S., and the agency emphasized that there were available alternatives for it. But the agency has identified around 20 drugs containing APIs sourced entirely from China. Fortunately, the FDA doesn't consider them critical.

Play it safe

The COVID-19 outbreak isn't a reason to panic, but anyone who relies on a steady supply of a prescription medication should probably not wait until the last minute to order their next refill, in case there are temporary supply disruptions. Teva Pharmaceutical Industries (TEVA -5.41%) is the world's largest manufacturer of generic drugs, and a lot of those drugs are manufactured in India from API's that Teva sources from China.

Earlier this month, the government of India restricted the export of 10 APIs and any drugs that contain those ingredients. Those restrictions are meant to ensure domestic access to medications that country produces, and aren't complete export bans, at least for now.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Limited Stock Quote
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Limited
TEVA
$7.52 (-5.41%) $0.43

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
317%
 
S&P 500 Returns
112%

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 06/30/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.