When it was clear that COVID-19 was a real and imminent threat in the United States, many veterinary clinics and hospitals needed to make difficult decisions to plan for the emergent needs of their patients amidst a lot of unknowns. As an industry, we needed to address, practically overnight, concerns like:
- How to treat patients while limiting personal contact?
- Would the drugs necessary to anesthetize and treat patients be diverted for human use?
- What would be the supply chain impact of import/export delays and closed production facilities to our drug supply?
The veterinary community stepped up—shipping ventilators to hospitals, providing emergency care to animals whose owners were affected by COVID-19, and finding new ways to care for patients while keeping our employees and clients safe.
We are proud of the commitment and nimble response to this pandemic and believe that some lessons learned could help improve our standard of care going forward. As much of the industry is adapting through a phased re-opening, what new practices will “stick?”
5 Lessons the Veterinary Industry Learned from COVID-19
- Curbside service minimized contact and streamlined patient visits. Bulk drugs and in-clinic pharmacies played a significant role in patient care and client satisfaction, minimizing client exposure and treatment delays.
- Increased concern about the cross-species spread of viruses and the need for contingency planning for pets whose owners have a health emergency is top of mind and may become part of routine visits.
- Routine use of PPE and increased sanitation practices.
- Increased paid sick time and employee requirements may cause practices to manage margins and identify new revenue streams.
- Proactive approaches to drug shortages with a strengthened feedback loop between FDA and 503B outsourced manufacturers.
Before most regions reacted to COVID-19, the FDA had identified human and animal drugs at risk of supply chain disruption—there are 20 human drug manufacturers and 32 animal drug manufacturers that either provide finished drugs or source active ingredients in China. The DEA, recognizing the shortages, accepted requests for increased production quotas on control drugs that would be in severe shortage due to human demand.
The growing portfolio of veterinary medicines available through 503B outsourced manufacturers allows veterinary hospitals and clinics to stock bulk medications for administration in-office and dispensing when medically necessary. Scaling up your in-house pharmacy can help improve compliance and margins in a year that is proving to be challenging for clients and veterinarians alike.