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A report warns of an increase in drug shortages and the risk it poses to national security


Democrats on the Senate Homeland Security Committee reveal in a document that the shortage of new drugs increased by nearly 30% from 2021 to 2022.

By Rebecca Shabad and Julie Tsirkin -

NBC News

WASHINGTON — Children's medication, antibiotics and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) treatment have been in short supply in recent months — and the shortage is only growing, according to a new report to be released Wednesday .

From 2021 to 2022, the shortage of new drugs rose nearly 30%, according to the report prepared by Democrats for the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.

“These stockouts, which peaked at 295 individual medicines in short supply by the end of 2022, have left healthcare professionals struggling with limited resources to treat patients in need,” the committee chair is expected to say, Gary Peters, D-Mich., in his keynote address at a hearing highlighting the report's findings on Wednesday.

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According to the report, the shortages are due to economic factors, reliance on foreign sources and low visibility of the pharmaceutical supply chain.

“Taken together, these underlying causes not only raise serious concerns about the provision of adequate care to patients, but also pose serious national security risks,” Peters will say, according to this prepared speech.

Wednesday's hearing is scheduled for 10:30 am Eastern time.

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The commission's report stresses that neither the federal government nor the pharmaceutical industry have the capacity to assess the entire supply chain, from starting materials to the final dose and buyers and suppliers.

Many drugmakers have moved abroad in recent decades because foreign governments have offered tax and logistics incentives, as well as fewer regulations, according to the report.

According to the report, more than 15 essential critical care medicines have remained in short supply for more than a decade, most of them injectables, which are more than twice as likely to be in shortage than other oral or topical medications.

Nearly a third of these critical medicines in short supply are antibiotics, used to prevent and treat bacterial infections.

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According to the report, propofol, a sterile injectable sedative that anesthesiologists typically administer to patients before surgery, is currently in short supply and has "in and out of shortage" over the past 15 years.

This was due to manufacturing delays, companies exiting the market, and unprecedented demand during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Part of the problem is that between 90% and 95% of sterile injectable generic drugs rely on starting materials from China and India, according to the report, citing the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response, a federal agency. .

In his keynote address, Peters is expected to say that the US's overreliance on foreign suppliers, especially Chinese ones, "remains an unacceptable risk to national security."

Half-empty shelves of medicines at a Walgreens in New York, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Fatih Aktas / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

This drug shortage has led to delays in treating patients, providers turning to sometimes less effective substitute treatments, and medication errors.

Some patients, including those with cancer, have faced a lack of alternative medications.

Peters cautions that because of the federal government's lack of supply chain oversight and limited data sharing between the federal government and the pharmaceutical industry, agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ) cannot adequately predict drug shortages.

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The commission recommends that Congress require the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services to conduct supply chain stockout risk assessments and identify potential national security concerns.

Peters is working on legislation to make other recommendations in the report a reality.

These include investing in domestic manufacturing, requiring manufacturers to report increased demand or export restrictions, and encouraging the FDA to develop a database that makes it easier for the agency to track materials used. in the supply chain process.

Source: telemundo

All news articles on 2023-03-22

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