The coronavirus is leading to dangerous shortages of key medications

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WASHINGTON — Even as the spread of the coronavirus in the United States has increased shortages of critical medicines, the federal government has failed so far to provide members of Congress with crucial information about the nation’s drug supply and the scope of potential shortages.

Democratic Sen. Gary Peters, the ranking member of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, was raising alarms about the drug supply even prior to the pandemic. The U.S. medical system is already facing shortfalls in protective equipment, ventilators and coronavirus tests, but now Peters says drug shortages are set to become even more acute.

“The drug shortage is right on the heels of all this. It is coming up. It’ll be the next thing,” Peters said in an interview with Yahoo News on Wednesday.

In December, before cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, were reported in China, the Democratic staff on Peters’s committee compiled a report on “cost, supply and security threats” to the nation’s inventory of prescription drugs. The report concluded “active drug shortages in the United States” were “at their highest levels in almost five years” due to multiple factors including diminished U.S. manufacturing capacity and “overdependence on foreign pharmaceutical supply chains.” Those existing issues have all been exacerbated by the coronavirus crisis.

In a statement to Yahoo News, the Food and Drug Administration acknowledged that drug shortages have been an issue and said it is working to address the issue.

“During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, FDA has been closely monitoring the medical product supply chain with the expectation that it may be impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, potentially leading to supply disruptions or shortages of drug products in the U.S. Many hospitals are currently experiencing difficulties accessing FDA-approved drug products used for patients with COVID-19,” the statement said.

And the FDA predicted the problem could worsen as the pandemic continues. – READ MORE

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