Senate Committee Holds Drug Shortage Hearing; Schumer to Introduce Legislation
The U.S. Senate Finance Committee Wednesday held a hearing to examine the pervasive shortage of certain prescription drugs, including critical cancer drugs, affecting hospitals and patients. Witnesses testified that there is no short-term panacea for the shortage, and urged lawmakers to examine long-term solutions, including improving the speed with which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) helps manufacturers expedite production, and revisiting the current pricing and rebate structure used to pay for these drugs.
HANYS rejects any effort to undermine current drug rebate programs like the critically important “340B” program.
Lawmakers are working on legislative proposals aimed at mitigating the shortage and restoring the availability of drugs to patients who need them. HANYS supports the Preserving Access to Life-Saving Medications Act of 2011 (S.296/H.R.2245), introduced in both houses of Congress, to improve hospitals’ access to drugs. The Act would improve FDA’s ability to work with supply chain entities, enhance its ability to monitor drugs that are vulnerable to shortages, and enable it to work with drug manufacturers to establish contingency plans for manufacturing interruptions such as raw material shortages, adjustments to production capabilities, and discontinuations.
Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), a co-sponsor of S. 296, has been working to raise the profile of this issue within New York State and nationwide, and is expected to introduce legislation shortly that would make price-gouging of shortage drugs a federal offense. HANYS is grateful for Senator Schumer’s leadership in addressing the drug shortage.
Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said that he is crafting “a solution that will continue to improve coordination between manufacturers and the government, but that also addresses some of the federal price control and rebate structures that prevent the true costs of bringing these important medicines to patients from being adequately addressed.” Contact: Chelsi Stevens