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Op-Ed: Hurricane season is here. Are you ready?

The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season began June 1. With natural disasters and extreme weather on the rise, it’s critical to be prepared and ready to respond.

That’s why Eli Lilly and Company and two disaster relief organizations — Healthcare Ready and Direct Relief — are working to help people prepare for disasters and ensure medicines are available when they strike.

During times of disaster, people need access to the essentials — shelter, food, water and, most certainly, health information and critical medicines, said Lilly’s CEO David A. Ricks.

“Our work with Healthcare Ready and Direct Relief expand our ongoing efforts to help people in times of disaster. It’s one more way that we’re working to help ensure people can access Lilly insulin and other medicines when they need them,” he said.

Eli Lilly’s work with Direct Relief for the “Hurricane Prep Packs” extends the company’s hurricane relief efforts, which include Puerto Rico, where it has more than 1,100 employees. Lilly’s affiliate is located in Hato Rey in San Juan and two manufacturing sites are located in Carolina.

In response to Hurricane María, Lilly donated more than 38,000 vials and pens of insulin and other medicines. The Lilly Foundation donated $625,000 and matched employee contributions for recovery efforts.

A new poll by Healthcare Ready points to the need for people to be better prepared in advance of disasters and able to access information when they strike. Approximately 60% of respondents indicate they would not be able to list all of their medical information in the event of a crisis, and 37% report they would experience serious health effects without access to their medications and medical devices for a week or less.

Lilly is supporting Healthcare Ready and its efforts to help people get access to the information and medicines they need in times of disaster. Lilly has committed $225,000 to expand Healthcare Ready’s Rx Open, an online, interactive map of open pharmacies in times of disaster, and Rx on the Run, which helps people document and share prescriptions and provider information in advance of or during a disaster.

In addition, the funding will help Healthcare Ready create a web-based repository of patient education and preparedness resources that will allow people to search for targeted information based on their own situation, such as medical condition, type of disaster and geography (e.g., diabetes, hurricane, New Orleans). 

During this hurricane season, people with diabetes are encouraged to download and fill out American College of Endocrinology’s My Diabetes Emergency Plan. It’s a checklist available in English and Spanish that contains all of the essential items and information people with diabetes need in the event of an emergency.

Since 2009, Lilly has worked with Direct Relief to supply insulin and other medicines as part of its Hurricane Prep Packs, which are distributed in advance to health centers in hurricane zones throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Each mobile, waterproof pack contains medical items to treat 100 people for three to five days in the immediate aftermath of a storm. Lilly is increasing its insulin donation to 4,400 vials and pens to provide more insulin per pack and to support Direct Relief’s expansion from 62 packs in 2018 to 75 packs for this upcoming season. 

Lilly is now supplying more than 19,000 vials and pens of insulin to Direct Relief’s Disaster Response Inventory initiative, which creates a standing supply of targeted items that are urgently needed following natural disasters, including wildfires, tornados, typhoons, earthquakes, floods and hurricanes.

The inventory is housed at Direct Relief’s newly constructed warehouse in Santa Barbara, California, which allows for cold chain storage of insulin and other medicines.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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