President Barack Obama took new action today on a growing crisis for patients unable to get certain prescription drugs, by directing the Food and Drug Administration Monday to take steps to reduce drug shortages across the USA, especially for those needing life-saving cancer drugs.
Obama signed an executive order intended to ease a problem that has been mushrooming in recent months, forcing delays in surgeries and cancer treatments.
Hospitals have been forced to buy from secondary suppliers that are charging huge price increases. And patient deaths have resulted from these shortages. Besides cancer drugs, these shortages have occurred with intravenous antibiotic drugs.
Obama said the administration had decided it could not wait for Congress to act.
“Congress has been trying since February to do something about this. It has not yet been able to get it done. It is the belief of this administration that … we can’t wait,” he said. “I still urge Congress to move forward and build on this executive order.”
The president also put his muscle behind House and Senate legislation that would require drug makers to notify the FDA six months ahead of a potential shortage. The FDA reported 178 drug shortages in 2010, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The order also protects consumers from price gouging on medications.
Accompanying President Obama in signing the order were (L-R in photo above) Bonnie Frawley, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Jay Cuetara and FDA Commissioner Peggy Hamburg.
On Friday, Obama directed government agencies to shorten the time it takes for federal research to turn into commercial products in the marketplace.
In September, the FDA awarded a $35 million grant to The National Institute for Pharmaceutical Technology and Education (NIPTE), a Chicago-based organization, that will distribute the funding to 11 universities to develop solutions to deter shortages of life-saving drugs by simplifying manufacturing and having fewer quality problems.