The federal government is our country's largest purchaser of medical supplies. Sometimes it's directly, as was the case in response to the COVID pandemic. Sometimes it's through the medical community — doctors' offices, clinics and hospitals are often reimbursed through programs such as Medicare and Medicaid when they buy medical devices.
As a result, billions of tax dollars are wasted when inefficient medical devices are used. And lives can be lost when vital health care supplies are caught up in supply chain issues when the items are not purchased here in America.
It's vital that policies are in place to encourage the government to buy the most efficient medical supplies as possible when our hard-earned tax dollars are on the line — and encourage those supplies be American-made whenever possible.
One way the government can save money is by embracing ultra-low waste safety syringes. It can save money by greatly reducing the amount of wasted medicine that ends up being discarded compared to when less efficient syringes are used.
Remember in late 2020, when multiple news outlets reported on massive waste in COVID-19 vaccine doses? Politico reported on December 16, 2020, "Pfizer vials are supposed to hold five doses, but pharmacists have found they have enough for a sixth or even a seventh dose." At the time, there was a worry of supply scarcity, but we now know that inefficient syringes led to waste of expensive medicines, including COVID-19 vaccines.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) should consider policies to lower what it pays for injectable medicines. One easy step would be for the federal government to require the use of ultra-low waste syringes when injectable meds are purchased for Medicare, Medicaid or other taxpayer-funded programs.
Waste in medicine is a problem that is completely avoidable. Conserving medicine will save money and lives. It can even bring down drug costs by making more supply available to patients.
An example of a company leading the way on reducing waste in injectable medicines is Sharps Technology, Inc. The company has managed to lower waste to a negligible amount with its syringes while developing a syringe that protects healthcare workers from accidental needle stick injuries when administering an injection.
This technology also saves hospitals the high cost of treating the infected medical worker while eliminating the medically documented anxiety that healthcare workers suffer after an accident.
Sharps Technology is just one of many American companies that will help solve supply chain issues thanks to being manufactured in the U.S. while at the same time providing American innovation to streamline efficiency.
We have learned many lessons from the government and corporate response to the COVID-19 pandemic. One big lesson is to reduce reliance on the international supply chain that largely emanates from China. Those substandard products take too long to get to the United States, and we should never again be dependent on any country for the medical supplies we need during a pandemic.
It is time to recalibrate government policy to save taxpayer resources by using government dollars to purchase American-made medical devices that are superior to cheap important ones that get caught up in the supply chain.
Drew Johnson is a government watchdog who serves as a budget, tech and energy policy expert at several free market think tanks. Read Drew Johnson's Reports — More Here.
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