CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) -Missouri U.S. Senator Josh Hawley introduced a bill to help secure the medical product supply chain. The legislation was inspired by recent reports of potential American drug shortages due to the Coronavirus outbreak in China.
Sen. Hawley said, “The Coronavirus outbreak in China has highlighted severe and longstanding weaknesses in our medical supply chain. This is more than unfortunate; it’s a danger to public health. Our health officials need to know the extent of our reliance on Chinese production so they can take all necessary action to protect Americans. This legislation will give us the information we need to better secure our supply chain and ensure that Americans have uninterrupted access to life-saving drugs and medical devices.”
According to reports by Hawley,"The medical supply chain act will work to require that manufacturers report imminent or foretasted shortages of life-saving or life-sustaining medical devices to the FDA just as they currently do for pharmaceutical drugs."
Local health professionals in Cape Girardeau said the Coronavirus may not be hurting medical shipments from China yet, but it’s a real possibility.
Stuart Greaser, an infectious disease pharmacy specialist, said “We definitely rely on a lot of medications that come from China.
He believes there is a growing concern that the U.S. medication supply could be impacted by the Coronavirus, which could change the way they treat their patients. “It could potentially have us pick a different medication that may not have been our first choice,” Greaser said.
Gayla Tripp, Manager of Infectious Disease at Saint Francis Healthcare said the current coronavirus situation is similar to other virus outbreaks in the past. “You know we always have a outbreak of something every few years, and we went through this in 2009 with H1N1 flu,” she said.
Greaser states they have a plan in place. “There are medications that are specifically from China that they do not have a great alternative and those would be ones on cases to case bases that we would try to reserve for those patients who truly need it,” he said.
He said right now there’s no need to panic. “We’re not necessarily worried at this point just very aware of the situation because we don’t have a shortage that we’re aware of,” commented Greaser.
According to release by Senator Hawley’s office, a letter has been sent to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) demanding answers for what is being done to handle potential drug and medical device shortages here in the United States.