The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) today expressed its support for a bill that will provide new opportunities to address drug shortages and improve care. The Mitigating Emergency Drug Shortages (MEDS) Act, introduced by Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Tina Smith (D-MN), aims to improve communications to pharmacists about drug shortages and mitigate the risks drug shortages pose to patient safety, among other benefits.
"APhA applauds the bipartisan commitment to addressing the multifaceted issue of drug shortages and decreasing health care costs while improving patient outcomes," said APhA CEO Tom Menighan. "As the organization representing all pharmacists in all practice settings, we are prepared to be a resource to Congress as it continues to advance this initiative."
At a briefing on Capitol Hill today titled Drug Shortages Are Harming Patients & Breaking Budgets: A Need for Congress to Act, Collins told attendees that medication shortages will be at the top of list of items to discuss in upcoming meetings with recent-nominee for FDA commissioner, Stephen Hahn, MD. She also reiterated her dedication to working with the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee to ensure the MEDS Act gets the attention it warrants.
APhA sent representatives to the Hill briefing and signed onto a joint letter to Collins and Smith expressing strong support for the MEDS Act. "Shortages persist for a variety of complex reasons, and no one-size-fits-all strategy will fix the problem," the letter states. "Sustainable solutions to address drug shortages must decrease barriers to entry, namely the time and cost to enter the marketplace, while maintaining the quality and safety of the product."
The MEDS Act (S. 2723) builds upon the prior work of Congress to provide additional authority to FDA to help mitigate drug shortages and develop market-based incentives to help ensure a stable supply of medications critical for patient care. Specifically, the legislation would create a priority pathway for the review of drug shortage applications; expand the FDA drug shortage list to include regional shortages as well as shortages based on strength and dosage form; and examine how shortages threaten national security, among other actions.