In Wake of Coronavirus Outbreak, Engel Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Prevent Critical Access Drug Shortages

In Wake of Coronavirus Outbreak, Engel Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Prevent Critical Access Drug Shortages

Congressman Eliot L. Engel today introduced the Preventing Drug Shortages Act, bipartisan legislation that would help mitigate shortages of medicines essential to high-quality patient care, including potential drug shortages stemming from COVID-19 or coronavirus.

“As the number of coronavirus cases grows in New York, it’s critical that we take all proactive steps to ensure our health care providers have the medications to treat affected New Yorkers,” said Rep. Engel. “Many of our critical medications are sourced from China and India. The growing outbreaks in these countries and the first reported coronavirus-related drug shortage underscore the need to protect and secure our drug supply chain needs. I am pleased to help author this bipartisan legislation which will help mitigate these issues.”

“Representative Engel has shown time and again his deep commitment to alleviating drug shortages that severely compromise patient care. This legislation will give the US Food and Drug Administration timely, critical information to mitigate shortages going forward, and allow for better planning when shortages do occur. The entire hospital community thanks Rep. Engel for his leadership on this important issue,” said Kenneth Raske, President of Greater New York Hospital Association.

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. On September 16, 2019, Congressman Engel led a bipartisan group of over 90 House Members demanding the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Drug Shortages Task Force release an overdue report on solutions to address this crisis. The Drug Shortages Task Force issued this report on October 30, 2019.

The ongoing outbreaks of COVID-19 or coronavirus abroad are likely to increase the number of drug shortages since most prescription drugs are made in countries like China and India. The FDA announced the first coronavirus-related drug shortage on February 27, 2020. 

The bipartisan Preventing Drug Shortages Act builds on the recommendations of the FDA Drug Shortages Task Force and would:

  • Enhance transparency throughout the drug supply chain, enhancing federal oversight of potential vulnerabilities and weaknesses.
  • Assess and strengthen the FDA’s interagency efforts to prevent drug shortages.
  • Empower the FDA to compel pharmaceutical companies to take action on securing vulnerabilities.

The following House Members joined Rep. Engel on the legislation: Rep. Scott Peters (CA-52), Rep. Brett Guthrie (KY-02), Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18), Rep. Richard Hudson (NC-08), Rep. Michael McCaul (TX-10),Rep. Kurt Schrader (OR-05), and Rep. Gus Bilirakis (FL-12)

This legislation has been endorsed by: Greater New York Hospital Association, Premier Healthcare Alliance, America’s Essential Hospitals, American Ophthalmology, American Hospital Association, American Society of Parental and Enteral Nutrition, American Society of Anesthesiologists, American Society of Consultant Pharmacists, Association of Clinical Oncology, Association of American Medical Colleges, Children’s Hospital Association, Federation of American Hospitals and Healthcare Supply Chain Association.