April 23, 2020 – SOUTH FLORIDA – The Business Development Board of Palm Beach County (BDB), the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance of Broward County, and the Beacon Council of Miami-Dade County hosted a tri-county teleconference with the Florida Division of Drugs, Devices and Cosmetics of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. The Chief, Compliance and Enforcement leader, Renee Alsobrook, and Director, Walter Copeland, tapped into the expertise of South Florida’s life science leaders to gain feedback from three perspectives; pharmacists, manufacturers, and distributors.

A Pharmacist’s Perspective – Pharmacy owners and directors shared their honest feedback regarding pharmaceutical regulations. The concern fueled the conversation about how quick demand of medications can be filled in the state of emergencies, and in this case, during the COVID-19 pandemic and the upcoming hurricane season. Suggestions pitched included lifting restrictions on pharmacies buying products from other pharmacies. A popular solution pitched from a South Florida hospital brought attention to the fact that hospitals could supply medications that are locked up to local pharmacies experiencing shortages during these times. The outcome of this conversation was possibly loosening up the movement of pharmaceuticals between pharmacies for the purpose of patient care, but also maintaining safe and secure measures while doing so.

A Manufacturer’s Perspective – For the most part, manufacturers were all in agreement with the fact that anytime there’s a shortage, companies tend  to order at larger quantities due to the public’s panic. If there were a way to maintain a fair balance and approach across the supply chain during State of Emergences, it would be helpful to manufacturers in the South Florida area. An outcome to this concern was strategizing how to get out of the process of “fear buying” and hoarding supplies so that manufacturing companies can supply their products at appropriate levels. As it drives so much chaos from a manufacturer’s perspective with the demand going up and down, it causes a ripple effect, which in turn affects distributors. 

A Distributor’s Perspective – Distributors on the call reported that regulations for the most part have seemed to go smoothly for them in the South Florida region. Distribution companies monitor supply chains daily, so maintaining what’s needed has helped retain smooth operations. However, with new clinical trials and medications coming to market, distributors requested that the regulatory requirements for that be modified to be quick, but in a safe and effective way.

Conclusion – It’s a difficult balance when fear makes the public purchase products that they normally wouldn’t and it’s important that items are safely regulated, but the Department also wants to provide industry leaders with the balance to get the process moving quicker during emergency situations. A great resource provided on the call was a reminder that the State of Florida is a public record state and a lot of resources are available by request through the Division of Drugs, Devices and Cosmetics Department of Business and Professional Regulation. The department encouraged pharmacists, manufacturers, and distributors to submit requests for lists of vendors, suppliers, and providers in the state for any products needed in advance in the midst of hurricane season. 

Life Science leaders throughout Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade Counties provided candid feedback to the Department that is being taken into consideration at a state level. The tri-county call  facilitated changes in regulations to make sure life-saving medication is available to Floridians and that it’s getting to them during emergencies.