Pharma’s Efforts in Hurricane Aid

November 4, 2012
Stephanie Sutton

Stephanie Sutton was an assistant editor at Pharmaceutical Technology Europe.

The end of October saw chaos in the Caribbean and then on the east coast of the US.

The end of October saw chaos in the Caribbean and then on the east coast of the US, particularly in New York and New Jersey (the location of some of PharmTech’s offices) after hurricane Sandy hit.

The pharmaceutical industry has also been affected by the storm, with several big companies delaying the announcements of their third-quarter financial results. On a consumer and patient-level, medicinal supplies have been affected in the US by looting and power outages affecting the filling of prescriptions.

The pharmaceutical industry has been quick off the mark to lend a helping hand to relief efforts.

Amgen and its Amgen Foundation are contributing $250 000 to support relief efforts, including $100 000 to Direct Relief International, a nonprofit support agency that provides medical assistance to people affected by poverty, disaster, and civil unrest. The remainder of the funding will mainly be disbursed to organizations that specifically support dialysis patients, who require timely treatment.

Eli Lilly’s Lilly Foundation has donated $200 000 to the American Red Cross. In addition, the foundation is also contributing one dollar for every dollar donated by Eli Lilly employees to the American Red Cross or Salvation Army .

Abbott is donating $1 million in funding and product donations to support relief efforts. Grants will be awarded to the American Red Cross, AmeriCares, Direct Relief International and World Vets, and product donations have also been made to Direct Relief International and Feeding America. Product donations have also been supplied to food banks and free clinics in states along the east coast of the US, including New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

Abbott was actually already preparing for a potential disaster before Sandy struck. Earlier this year, the company worked with Feeding America and Direct Relief International to strategically preposition disaster relief packs containing nutritional and medical products in coastal communities that were seen to be at high risk of hurricanes. Abbott donated adult and paediatric nutritional products and rehydration solutions to the packs, as well as nutritional products, medicine and diabetes care products to free clinics via Direct Relief International. Food banks and free clinics can access the packs as needed to quickly respond to local needs.

Although it’s great to see the pharmaceutical industry offering a helping hand - and even preempting disasters with prepared packs - I was a little disappointed to see that little media attention, both inside and outside of the pharmaceutical industry, has been directed at the Caribbean countries hit by the storm, some of which were hit by Sandy when it was in its Category 2 state. None of the press statements from the above companies mentioned humanitarian aid in the Caribbean, although perhaps efforts are being pursued in a quieter fashion. As more pharmaceutical companies no doubt come forward with donations and aid offering, I hope greater attention is spread across the damage caused by Sandy on a global basis.