President Barack Obama has directed the Food and Drug Administration to reduce prescription drug shortages by broadening its monitoring of potential problems and speeding up its regulatory reviews.
The direction came in the form of an executive order aimed at dealing with what the White House described as drug price gouging in some instances and potential safety issues that could endanger patients.
“Recently we have seen how the potential of drug shortages for vital drugs, including some cancers, can really have an adverse impact on patients and those who are caring for patients,” Obama said, as he signed the order in the Oval Office. “ Sometimes we run out of or run low on certain types of drugs and that drives up prices and it increases patient risk.”
In addition to laying out the expedited procedures for controlling shortages, administration officials said up to a half dozen more people would be added to the FDA’s drug shortage office.
The executive order was issued Monday, despite pending legislation in Congress that would give FDA new authority to prevent drug shortages in the future. That legislation, like a lot of other measures, has stalled in Congress even though it has bipartisan support. Obama said he couldn’t wait.
“Congress has been trying since February to do something about this. It has not yet been able to get it done,” he said, adding, “I still urge Congress to move forward and build on this executive order.”
The order is part of series of actions the president has taken recently to address important issues he says Republicans have been ignoring. One of them, he insisted, is the a growing complaint about shortages and the costs of drugs used in the treatment of cancer and other serious health problems that have forced patients to delay care or seek other, less effective forms of treatment.