AdvaMed reacted to President Joe Biden’s plan to use the Defense Production Act (DPA) to tackle the pandemic with some cautionary words.
In a letter responding to Biden’s 200-page COVID-19 plan, the medtech trade group asked for collaboration and urged the president to consider the industry’s experience with DPA orders issued by former President Trump.
“Due to the breadth of products manufactured by our members, we now have a deep understanding of how (the DPA) can be an effective tool in some cases and disruptive in others,” wrote AdvaMed president & CEO Scott Whitaker. “We have learned that some of the most pressing supply chain challenges throughout the pandemic were less about overall capacity and more about allocation, distribution, and ‘last mile’ roadblocks. Whether it is providing enough PPE, administering tests to all who need them, or getting vaccines into Americans’ arms, it is critical that we work together to understand the true picture of demand and the various obstacles to delivering these products to those who need them the most.”
Whitaker suggested that the federal government establish a public-private diagnostic testing board chaired by a national coordinator and comprised of leaders from the private sector — diagnostics manufacturers, hospitals and health systems, public health laboratories, distributors, clinical labs and retail pharmacies — and agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). This board could help oversee the implementation of a national testing plan informed by a private-public registry/dashboard modeled after the AdvaMed COVID-19 testing supply registry, which it launched in July to aid state and federal pandemic responses, Whitaker said.
“Neither the medical technology industry nor the federal government can succeed alone,” Whitaker said. “It requires exactly this type of holistic, collaborative effort. Furthermore, this partnership should reflect the reality on the ground and be firmly rooted in our industry’s experience, both throughout this pandemic as well as the 2009 H1N1 outbreak. We are deeply familiar with what works, what doesn’t, and which actions would ultimately prove counterproductive.”
Biden’s plan calls for the appointment of a COVID-19 response supply coordinator who would manage federal agencies’ acquisition, supply, industrial base expansion and DPA work under a single, national pandemic supply process.