Coronavirus spread puts medicines at shortage risk

The novel coronavirus originating from China has continued to spread around the world and has increased the risk of drug shortages in the U.S. as a result of dependence on Chinese drug ingredients.

The news was first reported by Axios. The disease, which has been dubbed Covid-19, has created a public health emergency of international concern, with cases surging at the end of February. The U.S. has reported 35 confirmed cases, with the international count topping 79,000, CBS News reported. Italy also confirmed more than 150 cases and at least four deaths as of Feb. 23.

HHS has already launched its response to the outbreak, working with airports around the U.S. to screen passengers traveling to and from China. The agency has also partnered with drugmakers, such as Janssen, to work to find therapies to treat the disease and a future vaccine.

A range of about 150 drugs could face shortages in the U.S. as a result of the epidemic in China. Antibiotics, generics and other branded drugs could be affected, Axios reported, citing sources familiar with the at-risk drugs from the FDA. The U.S. relies on several ingredients from China to manufacture drugs.

As a result of potential shortages, the FDA has connected supply chain players, including drug and medical device manufacturers and the European Medicines Academy, a global regulator.

The White House is also expected to ask Congress for emergency funds to fight the spread of the disease, according to Politico. However, the amount expected, possibly around $1 billion, is much lower than what experts suggest.

The spread of Covid-19 is also having a financial impact, sending stocks plummeting on Monday, Feb. 24. Airlines and technology stocks saw the biggest drops, according to The New York Times.