Reflecting the persistence of the problem and the continued inability of Congress to pass anything that didn’t involve political theater, the President has issued an Executive Order about prescription drug shortages (H/T Nature News).
The order directs the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take steps to increase reporting requirements of drug companies in order to have greater notice of pending shortages. Similar legislative efforts have stalled. The order also directs the FDA to dedicate additional resources for expediting review of new production facilities, suppliers, and other parts of the supply chain. The FDA has also been directed to communicate to the Department of Justice information on any companies that may be engaged in price gouging or stockpiling of drugs.
The Order was accompanied by other steps. The Department of Health and Human Services issued a report on the economic conditions underlying drug shortages. The FDA will get additional staff for its drug shortage program, and drug manufacturers have received a letter reminding them of their reporting obligations. But, as the HHS report notes, a growth of capacity is needed, and that is not something that can be handled quickly.