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Report: Department of Homeland Security Unprepared for Pandemic

81% of drug doses will expire by end of 2015

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has failed to assess the supplies it needs to deal with a potential pandemic and now has expired stockpiles, including medications, 200,000 respirators, and 4,184 bottles of hand sanitizers, an audit by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has found.

In 2006, Congress appropriated $47 million in supplemental funding to the DHS to plan, train, and prepare for a potential pandemic. The OIG has determined that the DHS cannot assure that it has sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) and antiviral medical countermeasures for a pandemic response.

The report found that the DHS did not develop and implement stockpile replenishment plans or inventory controls to monitor stockpiles, have adequate contract oversight processes, or ensure compliance with department guidelines. Further, the DHS has no assurance that the supplies on hand remain effective.

For example, OIG auditors found:

  • The DHS has a reported inventory of approximately 16 million surgical masks without demonstrating a need for that quantity.
  • Stockpiles of PPE include expired hand sanitizers. Out of 4,982 bottles examined, 4,184 (84%) were expired, some by up to 4 years.
  • Of the 296,000 doses of antiviral drugs acquired by the DHS, 81% will expire by the end of 2015.
  • The DHS does not know where its PPE is, how much it has, and the usability of the stockpiles that exist.

“The mounting risk of a worldwide influenza pandemic poses numerous potentially devastating consequences for critical infrastructure in the United States,” the report said.

The OIG made 11 recommendations for improvements, including designating an officer responsible for the management and accountability of pandemic PPE; developing a strategy for the management, storage, and distribution of pandemic PPE; and implementing an inventory system for the current inventory and future inventories of pandemic PPE.

Sources: Office of Inspector General; September 8, 2014; Reuters; September 8, 2014; and OIG Report; August 26, 2014.

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