Since COVID-19 first struck the world, supply lines became strained to the breaking point as shelves were running empty at stores and hospitals were struggling to have enough PPE and equipment to handle the sudden surge of patients as people became sick or were dying from the effects of COVID-19. It wasn’t too long before the FDA began putting a plan together to try countering the shortages that shocked the nation as healthcare workers struggled to find the means to protect themselves as well as save the lives of others. Enter the CARES Act, or the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.
What Does the CARES Act Do?
Signed into law back on March 27, 2020, the CARES Act was the FDA’s move to assume the authority of preventing the shortage of medical equipment in the case of a public health emergency, or even in anticipation of a possible public health emergency. This is crucial because of how the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that even with knowledge of a possible pandemic, our public health emergency response was nowhere near sufficient and hundreds of thousands have died for it. The main weakness that the CARES Act is meant to address is in our medical supply chain. There were not enough materials and equipment before to meet the rising demand when the pandemic had struck—and there was a need for establishing where the decision-making really needed to be. Now, the FDA can have the power to make those decisions quickly and decisively.
How Will the CARES Act Be Carried Out?
The FDA already has its 2022 budget outlined with $21.6 million to be invested into their new Resilient Supply Chain and Shortages Prevention Program (RSCSPP). This funding will be for the Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) and will be dedicated to establishing the first permanent program in the US for supply chain resilience regarding medical devices—it is but a first step, but a crucial one towards building a stronger nation in the face of future public health emergencies. It is a somber thought that the science community is already predicting that there will be more public health emergencies to follow in the wake of sweeping changes to our climate, but the CARES Act and consequent funding for the FDA will aid in the necessary steps to preparing us all.
What is the Ultimate Goal of the RSCSPP?
The RSCSPP is designed to ultimately provide the CDRH with the means to provide fast and well-backed intervention for when possible supply shortages may occur or when supply chains may possibly be disrupted regarding medical supplies and equipment. Here are just some of the ways that this will be made possible:
- Regulatory measures may be made, and valuable partnerships can be forged with the medical industry, healthcare providers, and patients.
- The development and improvement of supply chain intelligence through predictive modeling.
- Develop the means for early signal detection and constant surveillance.
- Invest in preventative measures that can help ensure that shortages don’t occur in the first place when domestic supply chains become stressed.
All of this goes into more than just preparing for emergencies, it will also benefit everyday operations—the health of all in the United States will benefit in the end.
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