Disaster Relief

PhRMA Responds to Critical Needs During Disasters

When disaster strikes, medical care and medicine are often urgently needed. Yet disasters can also impact patient access to the medicines they need. In 2006, PhRMA spearheaded the creation of Rx Response to address the lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina. While much of the assistance provided reached those in need, the biopharmaceutical research industry recognized that even more could have been accomplished with greater pre-disaster coordination.

Through Rx Response, biopharmaceutical manufacturers, distributors and dispensers, work together with the American Red Cross to help ensure the continued flow of medicine to patients following natural disasters, terrorist attacks or pandemics. Federal and state officials can now communicate directly with the biopharmaceutical supply chain through a single point of contact, making Rx Response a vitally important homeland security asset. The program is recognized as a model for how private industry can collaborate to be better prepared for disaster and better able to respond.

Rx Response continually monitors potential threats to public health and activates whenever a major disaster threatens to disrupt the flow of medicine to patients. This response often can be implemented before the emergency strikes, if forewarning permits.

The program continues to develop innovative ways for partners to share critical information internally and with the general public. Tools include:

  • InfoCenter: an online information-sharing forum
  • Rx Open.org: a Website where those in disaster affected areas can determine the closest open pharmacy

The Rx Response Coordinating Body convenes when a severe public health emergency arises or is expected. The Coordinating Body’s membership includes the following representatives:

In 2012, when Hurricane Sandy slammed the northeastern coast of the United States, PhRMA and its member companies matched employee donations toward relief efforts. Additionally, Rx Response was activated to help keep emergency responders informed on the status of the biopharmaceutical supply chain. Rx Response’s Rx Open tool was deployed in 11 states and the District of Columbia, helping victims and evacuees who needed to fill or re-fill their prescriptions find open pharmacies. Rx Response also helped emergency responders with critical information on the challenges facing supply chain partners relating to electricity, fuel and transportation issues. 

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