Obama pushes FDA to stop medicine shortages


US President Barack Obama



President Barack Obama issued an executive order Monday to push the federal regulators to recognize and address the medicine shortage currently hitting the country, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The executive order, which sidesteps a deadlocked Congress, pushes the Food and Drug Administration to pressure drug companies to report drug shortages to regulators more quickly, the L.A. Times reports. The order also directs the FDA to expedite reviews of new manufacturing facilities.

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Critical medicines, for cancer and other life-threatening illnesses, have been experiencing a growing number of shortages. Patient deaths have been blamed on the shortages, the Associated Press reports. Anesthetics, drugs used in emergency medicine and electrolytes needed for intravenous feeding are also among the medicines running out.

The order signed today lists three things the FDA must do: broaden reporting of potential shortages of certain prescription drugs; speed reviews of applications to begin or alter production of these drugs; and provide more information to the Justice Department about possible instances of collusion or price gouging, the New York Times reports. These instructions have been pending in Congress since February.

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“Even though the FDA has successfully prevented an actual crisis, this is one of those slow-rolling problems that could end up resulting in disaster for patients and health care facilities all over the country,” Obama said, the AP reports.