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Healthcare Organizations Launch Disaster Response Initiative

Thursday, August 16, 2007 General News J E 4
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NEW ORLEANS, Aug. 15 Health care organizations involved inthe manufacturing, distribution and dispensing of pharmaceutical products cametogether today to announce the creation of Rx Response -- a program designedto help support the continued delivery of medicines during a severe publichealth emergency. The partnership includes the American Hospital Association,American Red Cross, Biotechnology Industry Organization, HealthcareDistribution Management Association, National Association of Chain DrugStores, National Community Pharmacists Association and the PharmaceuticalResearch and Manufacturers of America.

"During a disaster, it is vital that systems are in place to assist withthe continued delivery of medicines to hospitals, healthcare providers andpatients in need," said Billy Tauzin, president and CEO, PharmaceuticalResearch and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). "Rx Response is a partnershipdedicated to assist with the delivery of critical medicines to patients whosehealth is threatened during a crisis."

The Rx Response program includes the pharmaceutical and biotechnologymanufacturing industries as well as distribution companies, communitypharmacies and hospitals -- all of whom play a role in delivering medicines topatients. The group also includes the American Red Cross -- and all of thepartners worked with the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services andHomeland Security to develop this program. Additionally, the partnership isworking with state emergency agencies to further develop the program to helpsupport the continued delivery of medications to patients whose health may bethreatened during a crisis.

"Disasters can strike at any time and the American Red Cross encouragesall families and individuals to be Red Cross Ready by taking three simplesteps -- get a kit, make a plan, and be informed," said Joe Becker, seniorvice president, Preparedness and Response. "An important part of any disasterkit is the inclusion of any vital medications, in addition to at least threedays supplies of food and water and other essential items. This initiative canbe vital in helping people plan for the possibility of disaster."

In the past, when the pharmaceutical supply chain was disrupted, there wasno single forum for suppliers to convene and share information. Now,Rx Response will help support information sharing among partners, communityvolunteer relief organizations and local, state and federal agenciesresponding to major disasters by helping to support the continued delivery ofcritical medicines and, where possible, addressing challenges.

"Daily and in times of crisis, HDMA's primary healthcare distributors areprepared and on the front lines delivering billions of prescription medicinesand healthcare products to 144,000 local pharmacies, hospitals, doctorsoffices, clinics and nursing homes across the United States. As a partner inRx Response we continue our commitment to emergency preparedness andcoordinated response efforts on behalf of patients," said John M. Gray,president and CEO, Healthcare Distribution Management Association (HDMA).

The program will be activated when responding to severe domestic publichealth emergencies -- when existing emergency relief plans and serviceprograms are disrupted -- to help assist partner organizations in theirindividual response activities. For example, a disaster declared by a U.S.Governor or the President of the United States, may initiate Rx Responseprogram engagement. Other situations warranting initiation, as determined byRx Response, may also activate the program. While public health emergencieswill be determined on a case-by-case basis, there are a number of existingmechanisms that will be used to help guide decision-making:

"In times of crisis, people turn to hospitals to help and heal. To do ourjobs, the men and women of America's hospitals need important res
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