Domestic Supply of 150 Drugs Under Threat Due to Coronavirus

February 24, 2020 Updated: February 24, 2020
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With the coronavirus having spread to 28 countries, including 53 confirmed cases in the United States, it has been reported there could be an upcoming shortage of about 150 prescription drugs.

Because China has been severely affected by the coronavirus, it’s decreased ability to produce these drugs could be in short supply, including “ antibiotics, generics, and branded drugs,” sources familiar with a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) list of at-risk drugs told Axios.

The United States relies heavily on China for its drug needs. “80 percent of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients are produced abroad, the majority in China and India,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).

The FDA did not confirm the list of drugs in danger of becoming in short supply, but in a statement to Axios, said it was “keenly aware that the outbreak could impact the medical product supply chain” and is working to identify any potential short-falls.

U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) sent a letter to U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn Monday, demanding answers as to how the FDA will mitigate “potential drug and medical device shortages.”

Hawley asked the FDA what the agency is doing to ensure that the United States does not face a critical shortage of drugs, what the vulnerabilities are in the supply chain, and how are they being addressed.

In the letter, the senator wrote, “The degree to which some of our own manufacturers rely on China to produce life-saving and life-sustaining medications is inexcusable. It is becoming clear to me that both oversight hearings and additional legislation are necessary to determine the extent of our reliance on Chinese production and protect our medical product supply chain.”

In a Feb. 14 press release, Hahn said, “We are not waiting for drug and device manufacturers to report shortages to us—we are proactively reaching out to manufacturers as part of our vigilant and forward-leaning approach to identifying potential disruptions or shortages.”

“The FDA has dedicated additional resources to review and coordinate data to better identify any potential vulnerabilities to the U.S. medical product sector, specifically from this outbreak,” he continued.

The FDA did not immediately respond to The Epoch Times for comment, but in an earlier statement addressed potential shortages in drugs to treat the virus.

“If a potential shortage or disruption of medical products is identified by the FDA, we will use all available tools to react swiftly and mitigate the impact to U.S. patients and health care professionals. These tools include closely working with manufacturers and expediting review of alternate supply to prevent shortages, among other measures, with the common goal of minimizing any negative impact to public health in America,”

Hahn said, “The FDA will continue to closely monitor the domestic and global supply chain during this evolving situation. Should the Agency be alerted to a potential shortage of a critical medical product, we will be as transparent as possible in sharing updates as they develop.”