Senator Carper Stresses the Need to Combat Drug Shortages and Support Health Care Supply Chains in the U.S.

Today, at the Senate Finance Committee hearing “Drug Shortages: Examining Supply Challenges, Impacts, and Policy Solutions from a Federal Health Program Perspective,” U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.) emphasized the importance of combatting the drug shortage crisis by shoring up American supply chains. This hearing builds on Senator Carper’s work to ensure critical medical products and supplies are available in the U.S. through the Medical Supply Chain Resiliency Act. The bipartisan legislation was introduced earlier this year with Senator Thom Tillis (R-N.C.). 

During the hearing, Senator Carper shared some of the shortfalls of U.S. supply chain infrastructure as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic:

“The COVID-19 pandemic taught us a bunch of different lessons about the resilience of our nation’s supply chains, especially with respect to medical supply chains. Across America, certainly in my home state of Delaware, we’ve heard from patients, we’ve heard from caregivers, we’ve heard from providers, and we’ve heard from manufacturers about the lack of access to medicine and to medical equipment, and how that has impacted their lives. The aftermath of this once-in-a-generation health crisis emphasized that we, as lawmakers, need to take action to shore up our access to goods around the world.”

Senator Carper also highlighted legislation he has introduced to address and mitigate drug shortages in the U.S.:

“No one should have to worry about not being able to access a treatment that they need. That’s why I worked with one of our colleagues on this Committee from North Carolina, Senator Thom Tillis, to introduce the Medical Supply Chain Resiliency Act. Our bill would give the President the authority to collaborate with our allies across the world to help diversify our supply chains, to increase access to critical medical goods, and to mitigate the effects of public health crises. Today, the medical supply chain backlog continues to affect access to life-saving medications, with over 140 medications listed as active drug shortages – over 140 – by the FDA, proving supply chain resiliency in the U.S. has never been more important.”

Senator Carper continued his questions by focusing on how greater investment in building manufacturing capacity and oversight will help ensure that Americans can get their medications, when they need it most:

“Last fall and winter we saw a crisis of children battling a severe flu season, alongside RSV and COVID-19 surges. Hospitals were at capacity, while parents were facing empty shelves where children’s over-the-counter fever and pain reducers should have been. Even members of my staff have shared stories of the fear that they experienced while taking care of their own children sick with a fever, without access to medication as simple as Tylenol. The unexpected high demand for these common medications led to their shortage, yet they are not included on the FDA’s drug shortage list. It’s clear that we need to work together to find long-term solutions to build manufacturing capacity and oversight to ensure we have the capability to adjust and meet demands as they arise.”

A video of Senator Carper’s questions at today’s hearing can be found here.