St. Luke’s University Health Network (SLUHN) has forged alliances with two U.S. partnerships that will enhance the network’s access to critical medical supplies that are made in the USA. These arrangements will help reduce American health care’s dependence on foreign suppliers.
The Bethlehem-based network of 12 hospitals joined Civica Rx, a nonprofit partnership comprising the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and private industry manufacturers, which is increasing the domestic manufacturing of generic medicines and their active ingredients. St. Luke’s involvement in Civica Rx will improve its access to these medications at a lower cost. More than 50 health systems are Civica members, representing over 1,200 U.S. hospitals.
While the immediate priority of Civica Rx is to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, the coalition also plans to stockpile pain antibiotics, pain management medications, neuromuscular agents and other medicines. Phlow Corporation, a public-benefit manufacturer of Richmond, Virginia, will lead the partnership, producing essential medicines from beginning to end.
Additionally, St. Luke’s recently became one of 15 U.S. health systems to invest in face mask production from Prestige Ameritech, the country’s largest maker of face masks, including N95 masks and surgical masks. St. Luke’s agreed to buy from Prestige a percentage of all face masks the network uses annually for six years.
This arrangement is part of a plan of investing in domestic suppliers of personal protective equipment (PPE), much of which currently is purchased from China and Southeast Asia. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the dangers of overreliance on foreign suppliers of PPE, which triggered widespread shortages that threatened the safety of health care providers and patients. Prestige sells 100% of its products to U.S. customers.