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House Dems press drugmakers on shortages

Rep. Raskin at the Capitol.

Raskin at the Capitol. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images.

Democrats on the House Oversight and Accountability Committee are pressing drug companies about what they're doing to address shortages of crucial cancer, ADHD and antibiotic medications.

Why it matters: The letters, led by Ranking Member Jamie Raskin, put additional pressure on Pfizer, Teva and Sandoz and highlight the harms stemming from the shortages of important drugs.

What they're saying: "Our constituents share story after story detailing how hard it is to fill prescriptions for Adderall and that the shortage affects every element of their lives," the lawmakers wrote to Teva.

  • The letter to Sandoz states that "shortages of amoxicillin may make strep throat more difficult to treat and left untreated may have serious consequences, such as increased risk of organ damage."
  • The letter to Pfizer warns that shortages of cancer drugs have forced oncology practices to ration doses.

The lawmakers note that these medications can be less profitable for the companies, but urge them not to diminish production because of that.

  • "As a principal supplier of carboplatin, cisplatin, and methotrexate, it is critical that Pfizer continues to increase production of these life-sustaining cancer medications, even amidst potential lower profitability," the letter to Pfizer states.

The big picture: Drug shortages have been an ongoing issue in Congress for months, and disagreements over action on that front have posed an obstacle for the pandemic preparedness bill PAHPA.

What's next: The Democrats want answers and a staff briefing by March 6.

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