Civica Rx, a non-profit organization supported by nearly 20 health care systems and three charitable organizations, aims to address drug shortages in hospitals that can sometimes delay or reduce the quality of patient care. Still in the development phase, the Salt Lake City-based group in Utah announced Monday (Jan. 7) that Sanford would join its ranks as a founding member.

"It's a good thing for patients," said Jesse Breidenbach, director of corporate pharmacy in Sanford. "Cases are canceled, or moved or can not be treated due to lack of availability of the drug."

Civica Rx said its goal is to address the shortages of essential drugs needed by hospitals and keep drug prices down for patients. By 2019, it is expected to supply more than 14 generic drugs.

Sanford's partnership will provide referrals to generic drugs that Civica will provide to hospitalized patients.

A number of other health care systems in neighboring states have also joined, including the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and Catholic health initiatives based in Omaha, Neb.

His philanthropic support is the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the Peterson Health Care Center, and the Gary and Mary West Foundation.

Officially launched in September 2018, Civica said in a statement that it was still working to become a drug manufacturer approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Civica officials have not yet decided whether they would produce drugs directly or subcontract with other manufacturers.

Sanford said he hoped to start seeing Civica drugs on his shelves over the next three to six months, but no details have yet been released on prices.

Nevertheless, Breidenbach said that it was a big step in the right direction.

"It's a huge relief," she said. "It's really exciting to get to the point where we are selecting drugs and others will be coming soon."