Resolving US drug shortages and ensuring national security

Acting responsibly

Resolving drug shortages and ensuring national security: why Hikma’s longstanding commitment to US manufacturing is more valuable than ever

The pandemic showed that the United States needs a robust and reliable supply of domestically manufactured medicines to avoid shortages and ensure national security. As policymakers now focus on increasing US-based production, Hikma is continuing our longstanding investments in US pharmaceutical manufacturing and expanding the important role we play in providing high-quality and affordable medicines to US patients.  

Much of the medicine Americans use, whether bought over the counter, prescribed by a doctor, or injected in a hospital, is not manufactured in the US. Rather in recent years we have increasingly seen medicines for US patients being manufactured elsewhere, particularly in countries with lower production costs such as India and China. When this has worked, it has proven very effective, particularly at reducing costs. However, we have also seen how vulnerable it makes the US healthcare system and its many millions of patients when it doesn’t work. When one link of the complex global supply chain breaks, obtaining needed medicines for US patients can become challenging quickly.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic threw these challenges into sharp focus. With numerous supply chains disrupted and a number of vital medicines driven into shortage situations, it became clear how reliant the healthcare system had become on manufacturers based outside of the US. It is on reflection of these key lessons that the Biden-Harris administration and Congress have recognized the issue of medicine shortages as one of national security, and are now working to foster greater US domestic pharmaceutical manufacturing.

Hikma’s US footprint and capabilities

If the government is to achieve this ambition, the nation’s generic pharmaceutical manufacturers will need to play a key role. According to the latest data from the IQVIA Institute, generic medicines represent 92% of prescriptions filled but a mere 16% of prescription drug spending in the United States. 

At Hikma, we’re proud to be ahead of the curve in this respect. Since establishing our US presence more than 30 years ago, we’ve continually invested to upgrade and expand our portfolio of essential medicines, US manufacturing facilities, R&D centers and distribution networks, becoming one of the country’s most important generic manufacturers in the process. Today, we employ 2,200 people in the US and aided by our state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Cherry Hill, NJ, we have grown to be the second-largest supplier by volume of generic injectable medicines to US hospitals[1]. Our Columbus, Ohio facility is one of the largest pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities in the country where we produce more than 12 billion finished doses of oral, nasal and inhalable medicines annually, with capacity to quickly produce more if required.

Benefits to domestic manufacturing

Manufacturing a large number of US medicines domestically has helped insulate us from supply chain challenges on the other side of the world, ensuring we can provide hospitals, doctors and pharmacists with a consistent supply of the medicines US patients need.

This was never more evident than during the pandemic when, faced with extraordinary demand, we quickly prioritized the manufacture of medicines in greatest need; our US manufacturing plants adapted to provide 12 of the medicines most widely used in hospital intensive care units to treat the most seriously ill COVID-19 patients. 

It has also meant we are well positioned to help the US healthcare system when supply shortages emerge elsewhere. We’ve been able to respond quickly and adjust our manufacturing capabilities to help address a range of shortages. Our agility has allowed us to launch more than 20 products into shortage situations since 2015 and has earned us the FDA’s Drug Shortage Assistance Award for our work.

Our plans to invest going forward

As we plan for the future, we are continuing to invest in our US product development and manufacturing capabilities. In the last year, we significantly enhanced and launched a new facility in New Jersey which will carry out sterile compounding activities for our Injectables business, helping us satisfy hospitals’ rapidly growing need for ready-to-administer formats of medicines. We are also investing to develop our pipeline, adding new R&D sites for complex injectable medicines in New Jersey and California.

The pandemic showed that the United States needs a robust and reliable supply of domestically manufactured medicines to treat patients, avoid shortages and ensure national security. Hikma is committed to continuing its longstanding investment in the US and expanding the important role we play in providing high-quality and affordable medicines to the US healthcare system and its millions of patients.

[1] Source: IQVIA MAT through May 2022, generic injectable volumes by eaches, excluding branded generics.