WASHINGTON, D.C. [03/02/20]—Over a dozen organizations representing physicians and hospitals are calling on leaders of the Senate Health Committee to pass the Mitigating Emergency Drug Shortages (MEDS) Act, a bipartisan bill authored by U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine).
China accounts for 13 percent of the facilities making active pharmaceutical ingredients to supply the U.S. market, which could be disrupted by manufacturing delays caused by the Coronavirus. On Thursday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced the first drug shortage caused by the Coronavirus, but it was able to identify an alternative. Sens. Smith and Collins introduced their partisan MEDS Act last fall to enhance reporting requirements of potential drug shortages and help increase the supplies of vital drugs needed to treat or prevent a wide variety of diseases, illnesses, and conditions.
“[P]ast situations such as H1N1, Ebola, and Hurricane Maria have highlighted vulnerabilities in the drug supply chain that require congressional action to ensure a stable supply of critical medications is available for patient care,” wrote 14 national health organizations. “Furthermore, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have stated the COVID-19 outbreak will likely impact the medical product supply chain, including potential disruptions to supply or shortages of critical medical products in the United States.”
“Recognizing the importance of these critical drugs for patient care, we urge the Senate HELP Committee to markup the MEDS Act expeditiously so that the United States can strengthen its drug supply chain,” the letter concluded.
“We introduced our bipartisan bill because we know that we need to establish a system to avoid drug shortages and assess ways to minimize risk,” said Sen. Smith, a member of the Senate Health Committee and Rural Health Caucus. “Our bill would require drug makers to create adequate supply chains and back-up plans so that our nation doesn’t rely on a sole supplier, and it would encourage manufacturers to produce medicines here in the United States. I’m glad that our legislation is supported by such a strong coalition of health care groups, and I’m proud to be their partner in this fight because we need to be ready to respond to public health crises.”
“I often hear from patients, pharmacists, and physicians who find themselves caught in the middle of a drug shortage, with very little certainty of when the problem might be resolved,” said Senator Collins, a member of the Senate Health Committee. “The disruptions caused by the coronavirus in China demonstrate why it is so important for FDA to have greater visibility into the drug supply chain. I appreciate these organizations’ support for our bill, and I urge my colleagues on the Senate Health Committee to pass it quickly.”
The 14 national organizations urging the Senate Health Committee to pass Sens. Smith and Collins’ bill are as follows:
- America’s Essential Hospitals (AEH)
- American Academy of Ophthalmology
- American Hospital Association (AHA)
- American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN)
- American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA)
- American Society of Consultant Pharmacists (ASCP)
- American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP)
- Association for Clinical Oncology
- Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC)
- Children’s Hospital Association (CHA)
- Federation of American Hospitals (FAH)
- Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA)
- Healthcare Supply Chain Association (HSCA)
- Premier Healthcare Alliance
You can read their letter here.