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Sanford joins nonprofit generic drug collective

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FARGO — Sanford Health has joined a collective of health care providers working together to manufacture generic versions of crucial drugs used in hospitals.

Civica Rx, a nonprofit venture backed by almost 20 health care systems and three charitable organizations, aims to address hospital drug shortages that can sometimes delay or decrease the quality of patient care. Still in a developmental stage, the Salt Lake City, Utah-based group announced on Monday, Jan. 7, that Sanford would join its ranks as a founding member.

"It's a positive thing for patients," said Jesse Breidenbach, Sanford's director of enterprise pharmacy. "Cases get canceled, or moved or can't be done because of lack of availability of the medication."

Civica Rx said its aim is to address shortages of critical drugs needed by hospitals and keep drug prices lower for patients. In 2019, it expects to provide more than 14 generic drugs.

Sanford's role in its partnership will be to point patients in the direction of generic drugs that Civica will provide for hospital patients.

A number of other health care systems in nearby states also have joined, including Minnesota's Mayo Clinic and Omaha, Neb.-based Catholic Health Initiatives.

Its philanthropic backers are the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the Peterson Center on Healthcare and the Gary and Mary West Foundation.

Civica officially launched in September 2018, and said in a release that it's still working toward becoming a Food and Drug Administration-approved manufacturer of drugs. Civica officials have not yet decided if they will directly make the drugs or sub-contract with other manufacturers.

Sanford said it hopes to start seeing Civica drugs on its shelves sometime in the next three to six months, but no details have yet been released on what prices will be.

Still, Breidenbach said it's a big step in the right direction.

"It's a huge sense of relief," she said. "It's really exciting to be getting to the point where we are actually selecting drugs and some are going to be produced soon."