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Guthrie Leads Effort to Prevent Drug Shortages

Washington, September 16, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Brett Guthrie (KY-02), along with Congressman Eliot L. Engel (D-NY-16), led a group of 92 bipartisan lawmakers in a letter today to the Acting Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Norman “Ned” Sharpless on the urgent issue of medical drug shortages.

The United States has recently faced shortages of vital drugs and medications, and the frequency of drug shortages has spiked in recent years. In 2018, there were 186 new drug shortages, a 27% increase from 2017 and the most in the last five-years.

In July 2018, in response to recent drug shortages, the FDA established the Agency Drug Shortages Task Force to look at the causes of drug shortages and develop long-term solutions to prevent drug shortages in a report to Congress.

This bipartisan letter to Acting Commissioner Sharpless intends to remind the FDA that addressing drug shortages is a priority for Congress and asks for the release date of the task force’s report.

“The last thing any patient wants to hear is that they cannot receive adequate treatment due to a drug shortage,” said Rep. Guthrie. “Nationwide shortages of saline and epinephrine, among other important drugs, have directly impacted Kentuckians. The FDA must ensure that Americans are able to get the drugs they need. Thank you to Rep. Engel for working with me to ensure the FDA makes this a top priority.”

“I have heard first hand from my constituents in the Bronx and Westchester about the catastrophic consequences of not having access to life-saving medications because there is a shortage,” said Rep. Engel. “While Congress has taken steps in the past to minimize the impact of these shortages, more must be done. I’m pleased to have Rep. Guthrie help me lead this letter, which will help us gain insights from public health experts to prevent drug shortages in the future.”

Drug shortages of critical medicines such as epinephrine and ketamine can hinder the delivery of high-quality patient care. A variety of factors ranging from environmental disasters to issues with manufacturing standards can disrupt the supply of medical drugs, threatening patient care by leading to:

  • Substitution of recommended treatments with alternatives therapies
  • Compromising or delaying critical medical procedures
  • Rationing drug doses

In one recent example, U.S. hospitals struggled to administer cancer drugs due to a nationwide shortage of saline solution.

The frequency of drug shortages has spiked in recent years. In 2018, there were 186 new drug shortages, a 27% increase from 2017 and the most in the last five-years.

Click here to read the lawmakers’ letter to the FDA.

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