The Advanced Medical Technology Association (Advamed) held a conference call March 27, during which Scott Whitaker, the organization’s president and CEO, detailed the med-tech industry’s ongoing response to COVID-19. Whitaker provided an overview of diagnostic tests, noting that 12 of them came on the market in a short period of time. He also predicted the ability by mid-April to deliver roughly 27 million tests a month. Whitaker then turned to the production of personal protective equipment (PPE), noting that manufacturers are adding third shifts and running production lines 24/7. New workers are being hired, while existing ones are being retrained to focus on PPE. Ventilators also came up during the call, with Whitaker noting that manufacturers in this space also are adding third shifts and running 24/7. Whitaker did stress that as new manufacturers, such as automakers, get into the ventilator space, it is important not to overstress the supply chain. So, industry needs to focus on the availability of both raw materials and component parts. Advamed should have a better sense of the situation as discussions with automakers progress. He also discussed collaborative work with state and federal governments related to the pandemic, noting that he has spoken with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar multiple times. Both Azar and FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn have addressed Advamed’s board several times. Another topic that came up was the Defense Production Act (DPA), which both Azar and Hahn said they would be careful in invoking, as they don’t want to signal to other countries that they should limit their own production and exports. Whitaker said his organization will work with Azar and Hahn moving forward, as they do not want to affect the supply chain adversely or impose any unnecessary burdens. “I think unless anything changes, moving forward without the DPA continues to be the best course of action, but we’re prepared to adjust as we need to in the days ahead,” Whitaker said. The organization also has kept in close contact with other members of the administration to open global supply chains. Of note, the group led a coalition of 30 associations, known as the Global Medical Technology Alliance, to call on the G20 to oppose export limits. “[W]e are very concerned about the growing list of governments that are restricting exports and trade of vitally needed medical devices such as masks, ventilators, diagnostics, reagents, and other lab instruments and consumables,” the GMTA said in a letter dated March 25. “We urge governments to remove these export and other supply restraints as soon as possible and pledge to promote trade in these important medical products.”

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