Drug Distributors Urge U.S. to Expand Vaccination Network

The U.S. should consider expanding the vaccine-distribution network as the supply of shots ramps up, executives from pharmaceutical distributors Cardinal Health Inc., AmerisourceBergen Corp. and Henry Schein Inc. said in a letter.

The companies asked the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to develop a plan of action “to maximize the resilience and efficiency of the Covid-19 vaccine distribution system by utilizing the entire U.S. commercial medical supply and pharmaceutical distribution system,” according to a letter sent on Monday reviewed by Bloomberg News.

The immunization operation is the largest and most complex public-health effort in U.S. history and requires the entire medical infrastructure, the companies said.

Representatives for FEMA didn’t immediately comment.

“The nation’s existing commercial medical supply and pharmaceutical distribution system has well-established networks that reach administration sites across the entire country, such as pharmacies, doctors’ offices, hospitals, and other healthcare providers,” the companies said in the letter, which is signed by one executive from each firm.

The distributors haven’t participated in the immunization push to this point. McKesson Corp. is handling two of the three Covid-19 vaccines now available in the U.S. through a federal contract that predates the pandemic.

McKesson in a statement touted four facilities it built to distribute vaccines, as well as its partnerships with FedEx Corp. and United Parcel Service Inc. to make “last-mile” deliveries.

“We believe this distribution approach is the safest and fastest way to get Covid-19 vaccines into arms of Americans across our country,” McKesson spokesman David Matthews said.

Supplies are expected to dramatically increase in coming weeks, with the Biden administration pledging the U.S. will have enough doses available to vaccinate every U.S. adult by the end of May.

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