Leahy Welcomes President’s Actions Targeting Prescription Drug Shortages

WASHINGTON (MONDAY, Oct. 31) – Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Monday lauded action by President Obama to step up efforts to remedy the widening shortages of some prescription drugs needed by millions of Americans.

Between 2005 and 2010, shortages of some medications nearly tripled, forcing many, including in Vermont, to switch to less-effective drugs or to stop their courses of treatment.

The President Monday signed an Executive Order directing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to work with the Department of Justice to counter price gouging and stockpiling of available drugs during shortages.  The FDA will also direct drug makers and suppliers to provide earlier notice of potential or existing shortages, allowing timely action to limit or prevent supply gaps.

Leahy, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee which oversees the Justice Department, said Vermonters have contacted him to relay the frustration and harmful health effects of the shortages they have encountered.

“This is a harmful and recurring problem, and it is a preventable problem,” said Leahy.  “These are steps for greater oversight and accountability of drug producers and suppliers.  The drugs that doctors prescribe for their patients are not expendable consumer choices; they are lifelines.  I commend the President for urging coordination between the Justice Department and the FDA to prevent the exploitation of prescription drug shortages and to expedite the process of certifying new drug manufacturing facilities and suppliers. These are steps in the right direction to counter a growing problem.”

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