Ph.D. student seeks to improve availability of medicines to low income countries

April 7, 2022

Martha Sabogal is an Industrial Engineering Ph.D. student working under the direction of Emily Tucker. She is applying stochastic optimization to study disruptions in pharmaceutical supply chains and how they impact low and middle-income countries (LMICs). The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed how vulnerable the current pharmaceutical supply chains are for certain classes of drugs. High geographical concentration of the production of some medicines translated into an overreliance on external supplies, that is, heavy dependence relationships between countries. Disruptions in supply chains with these characteristics can quickly lead to global shortages. Notably, most LMICs, which historically have had barriers to access medicines, have low local manufacturing capacity and few recourses to respond to disruptions situations; as a result, the problem of drug access worsens.

Martha is developing a multi-stage stochastic location-distribution model that considers disruptive events and international strategic alliances. Her aim is to reduce both the vulnerabilities of the current pharmaceutical supply chain structures and disparities in the availability of medicines between countries. In her empirical work, she analyzed the drug shortage phenomenon in LMICs as a sign of inequalities in health access across the world.