Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) has called for a Food and Drug Administration hearing and a Government Accountability Office report to address drug shortages in the U.S.
Lawmaker urges hearing on drug shortages
Blumenthal said during a call with reporters that the FDA hearing is scheduled for Sept. 26. He made the comments during a call to discuss the findings of the Premier healthcare alliance's report on drug shortages and the “gray market.” (PDF)
“It's a constant fight for the hospitals, pharmacists and providers, as well as the patients,” said Blumenthal during the call. “We need to take more vigorous action at the federal level so as to ensure patient safety as well as lower costs in healthcare delivery.'
Lawmakers have introduced legislation this year to address drug shortages, including a bill announced in June by Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) that would require the FDA to notify providers about drug shortages.
Premier, the Charlotte, N.C.-based quality-improvement and group-purchasing organization, released a report today analyzing 1,745 unsolicited gray market sales offers made to its member hospitals during April and May. Of the 636 offers that included price and drug identification information, 96% offered drugs with prices that had been doubled.
A Premier spokesperson said gray market vendors are suppliers that are not licensed by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. The company declined to provide examples of gray market vendors that it tracked.
Recent drug shortages have been attributed to a number of factors, including manufacturer consolidation, quality issues, increased demand and the exits of some companies from less profitable product areas. The Premier report said hospitals facing drug shortages may purchase gray market products that could be counterfeit, stolen, mishandled or adulterated.
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