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Governors urge Congress to address prescription drug shortages

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Kim Jarrett

(The Center Square) - Eleven governors are asking Congress to adopt policies to ease the nation's prescription drug shortages.

The governors said in a letter sent Tuesday to Congressional leaders that 80 percent of active ingredients in prescription drugs are made outside of the U.S., mainly in India and China. But little is done to change that, they said.

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"States are taking what limited action we can to combat prescription drug shortages," the governors said. "Individual states have expanded our medical caches to increase the diversity of prescription drugs that are stockpiled in case of emergency shortages. To create real change, the states need Washington to take action."

The governors are asking Congress to consider policies that would "increase diversity in the manufacturing of generic medications with regards to both raw materials and final manufacturing," require the FDA to be more transparent about shortages and supply disruptions and reexamine expiration date guidance to extend medicines shelf lives.

FDA Commissioner Robert Califf indicated he would work with Congress, the governors said.

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“Congress needs to improve the inspection process for manufacturers to decrease the risk that everyday Americans are currently facing,” the governors said. “These practical steps toward greater transparency and flexibility will ensure safety and dependability in our pharmaceutical supply chain.”

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, the lead author of the letter, directed the Department of Health to study the state's drug shortages. In July, she ordered health officials to include albuterol, epinephrine, insulin, prednisone, pediatric amoxicillin, and the antibiotics the department has stockpiled in its emergency cache. She also extended South Dakota's cache to five more cities.

The governors of Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Texas and Wyoming also signed the letter addressed to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jefferies and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.