Supply chain logjams are taking a toll on the biotech sector

As we approach the holiday season, supply chain logjams are a major concern. But never mind toys and electronics—how are supply chain challenges affecting the biotech sector? We take a look.

Supply chain logjams are having a widespread impact on health care—causing shortages of aluminum needed for pharmaceutical packaging, crutches and wheelchairs, as Axios reported yesterday, to the anti-inflammatory drug tocilizumab, which treats both COVID-19 and patients undergoing chemotherapy.

More than 100 drugs are in short supply nationwide, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Three of the top five shortages are drugs used for antibiotics, chemotherapy, and heart conditions, per the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.

But this is not a new problem. Supply chain challenges have been building up for decades—and “warehouse, distribution and truck driver shortages were bad before COVID,” Robert Handfield, the Bank of America professor of supply chain management at NC State, told the Los Angeles Times.

Easing tariffs could help alleviate some problems. The Biden administration reached an agreement last week with the E.U., which will now permit limited volumes of E.U. aluminum and steel to enter the U.S. market, free of tariffs.

G20 leaders also agreed to “foster greater international cooperation on near-term supply-chain disruptions,” including a “plan to strengthen and diversify the entire supply-chain ecosystem from reliance on certain raw materials to manufacturing to shipping and distribution,” per the White House.

Looking ahead: Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo will host a summit next year with foreign counterparts to discuss how to make the global supply chain more resilient.

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