The pandemic has made (at least) three things clear to healthcare supply chain leaders:

  1. We have to build resiliency into the supply chain.
  2. We have to find a way of reducing device costs.
  3. We need to learn how to re-use devices.

These are enormous tasks hardly achieved with short-term stop-gaps such as Emergency Use Authorizations and the C.A.R.E.S. act. However, one approach comes close to effectively addressing all three: a circular healthcare economy. This is more than a lofty vision; circular economy principles are being built into European legislation, and there are plenty of examples of how it can work in reality. However, while healthcare administrators are ready to rethink a single-use healthcare culture, suppliers and legislators are slower to act.

Politicians and healthcare leaders alike have pointed to the painful lesson from the pandemic that we are simply too dependent on fragile, international supply relations. In the pandemic, we’ve seen the emergence of emergency supply solutions where product quality is unpredictable, supply quantities are determined by who-comes-first, and pricing completely lacks transparency. A domestic supply chain would insure us against these problems. There is a need to bring production of devices such as face masks and gloves back to the United States, so that supplies can be controlled in times of crisis and certainty about device availability can be established…

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