Today, PhRMA president and CEO Steve Ubl sent Puerto Rico Secretary of Economic Development and Commerce the following letter on behalf of PhRMA and its member companies regarding the devastation in Puerto Rico caused by recent hurricanes. The letter can be viewed here.
Dear Secretary Laboy Rivera:
On behalf of our members, PhRMA wants to thank you for your leadership in the recovery efforts in Puerto Rico after two recent hurricanes – most notably Hurricane Maria – struck the island last month. We want to provide some more information about how our members with manufacturing or other interests there are managing with the devastation and highlight areas where additional assistance would aid in returning Puerto Rico’s manufacturing base to full capacity and maintain that base in the longer term.
While our members have a substantial manufacturing presence on the island, our industry recognizes that we are just one of many entities adversely impacted by these Hurricanes and that the situation on the ground is extremely challenging for many families and businesses. To help address these challenges, our members are working with government at every level, including your team, and private stakeholders to help coordinate relief on the ground and to provide people impacted by the disaster with access to medicines, potable water and other necessary supplies. PhRMA and many of our members are also working closely with Healthcare Ready, an independent relief organization we helped establish which coordinates the delivery of medicines and other healthcare resources to people impacted by natural disasters.
These hurricanes have also had an adverse impact on our manufacturing facilities and the welfare of many of our employees in Puerto Rico. As you know, we are working in close coordination with federal, commonwealth, and local agencies to restore our facilities to 100 percent capacity, and we are making good progress.
With respect to the medicines we manufacture, supply is generally stable. More importantly, we believe that these supplies will be sufficient to meet the short term needs of patients and the health care community. This determination is based on the contingency planning that our member companies have undertaken, the ability of our member companies to shift production to other manufacturing locations and the reserve supplies of medicines they maintain. We have particularly appreciated the collaborative efforts of the United States Food and Drug Administration’s Drug Shortage Team and Emergency Operations Center to share information with our members and to explore alternatives to assure continued product supply. However, if services, especially electricity, are not restored in the near future, the supply situation could worsen.
To further this progress, we thought it would be helpful to share with you some discrete areas where additional assistance could accelerate the restoration of our members’ manufacturing capabilities to full capacity. These areas include:
Restoring the Power Supply and the Electrical Grid
- This is a critical issue as generators have run for prolonged periods, and reliance on generators for manufacturing operations is suboptimal.
- Resumption of electrical power would also help decrease employee absenteeism and restore normalcy to employees’ lives
Returning Employees to Work Safely
- Food security and facilitating the resupply of groceries would help employees return to work safe and healthy. Economic aid would support the local population and ensure a stable social environment.
- Restoration of roads and road lighting would allow employees to travel safely during daytime and at night and facilitate resumption of around-the-clock manufacturing operations.
Restoring Municipal Water and Waste Water Systems
- Ensuring that water can be reliably and safely sourced, and that waste water can be treated, would enable employees to resume more healthy living conditions and would help our industry restore manufacturing to full capacity.
Facilitating Efficient Transportation
- Alleviating congestion and blockages on roads and at port terminals would facilitate the transportation of goods and materials on and off the island.
- Adequate fuel supplies would help ensure generator power is maintained (until electrical power is fully restored) and that vehicles on the island are able to transport supplies and employees.
Restoring Telecommunications, Cellular and Internet Service
- Limitations on service restrict communications between and among companies’ multiple plants on Puerto Rico and their ability to coordinate with employees and government agencies.
Ensuring Gas Supply
- Helping to ensure adequate supplies of oxygen and nitrogen for use in manufacturing would allow manufacturing capacity to be restored. Hospitals are understandably the priority for these gases.
We appreciate your collaboration with and support of our members at this challenging time. Thank you for your consideration and support of these objectives and please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or comments.
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) represents the country’s leading innovative biopharmaceutical research companies, which are devoted to discovering and developing medicines that enable patients to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives. Since 2000, PhRMA member companies have invested more than $600 billion in the search for new treatments and cures, including an estimated $65.5 billion in 2016 alone.