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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Infectious disease researchers at the University of Minnesota are urging pharmaceutical companies to be transparent about their supply chains as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic could lead to shortages of critical drugs.

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The Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy said Thursday that preliminary findings of a project examining the supply chains of 156 critical drugs has found that many of them are made, formulated, packaged or have an active ingredient produced in Italy, China or India.

Since these countries are severely affected by the pandemic, it’s possible some shortages of life-saving drugs could occur in the next 90 days, researchers say, as fundamental information about these drugs is not known to the public.

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“With the COVID-19 pandemic expected to last many more months and with more patients in need of life-saving drugs, we call upon the pharmaceutical companies and their partners to publicly come forward with current inventory levels and information on the status and relative resiliency of their critical drug supply chains,” said Dr. Michael Osterholm, a University of Minnesota professor, in a statement.

Osterhold, who is the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, says that the supply chain information is essential to various institutions — from hospitals to nursing homes — as they prepare for the possibility of drug shortages.

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Since appearing in China late last year, the novel coronavirus has affected more than 500,000 people globally, researchers say. Nearly 23,000 people have died.