How Civica Rx has responded to drug shortages caused by COVID-19

Civica Rx was formed to combat drug shortages, which have become a prominent issue as the COVID-19 pandemic exhausts hospital supplies around the country. 

The nonprofit generic drug company was formed in 2018 by seven major health systems with the goal of preventing drug shortages. Today it works with U.S. 1,200 hospitals.

Civica has launched 20 drugs that it supplies to hospitals, and it plans to add another 20 drugs to the list this year. By 2023, the company hopes to provide 100 drugs, Heather Wall, Civica's chief commercial officer and head hospital liaison, told Becker's Hospital Review. 

Hospitals tell Civica which drugs they need, and Civica then works with generic drugmakers to manufacture and stock up on the drugs, which it keeps in warehouses. It keeps about six months' worth of drug inventory in warehouses for its hospital partners to access whenever needed, according to Ms. Wall. 

Many of the drugs Civica prioritized manufacturing before the COVID-19 pandemic included drugs that are now in short supply in hospitals across the country, such as antibiotics, pain management drugs and sedatives. 

Because Civica keeps six months worth of these drugs, it was able to help many of its member hospitals avoid running out of the drugs that have been critical in treating COVID-19 patients, Ms. Wall told Becker's. She said Civica has worked quickly to increase supplies of sedation drugs directly to hospitals and drugs used to support ventilator care. 

Since the pandemic began, Ms. Wall said Civica has increased its communication with hospitals to adjust which drugs it prioritizes as hospital needs change and COVID-19 hot spots shift locations.

"We are learning along the way, and are adjusting our work processes wherever possible to enable that medication movement and allocation as needed," Ms. Wall said. 

Civica also has worked to transfer drugs directly from one health system to another as hospital needs shift, she said. 

While the pandemic has mostly reinforced that Civica's strategy works in fighting shortages, Ms. Wall said that when the pandemic first hit, there was uncertainty if Civica would be able to obtain the active pharmaceutical ingredients it needs. 

Most APIs, which are the key ingredients used to manufacture drugs, are made in other countries and shipped to the U.S. At the start of the pandemic, many of the countries Civica prefers to source its APIs from became hesitant to ship out the product as they were concerned with making sure their own country had an adequate supply. 

But since Civica has large stocks of drugs and partners with several drugmakers, it has been able to keep up with demand, Ms. Wall said.

More articles on pharmacy:
HHS unveils plan to distribute Gilead's COVID-19 drug
Two-thirds of hospital pharmacies have reduced staff during COVID-19 pandemic, ASHP survey finds
New CMS rule could raise out-of-pocket drug costs

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