American Society of Plastic Surgeons
For Consumers

FEDERAL | Senators Request Recommendations on Medication Shortages

In light of the ongoing drug shortage crisis in the United States, Sens. Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) – members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee – wrote a letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asking for assistance, which was cosigned by 29 other members of the Senate. Within the bipartisan letter, Cassidy and Collins requested that the Drug Shortage Task Force determine the cause of drug shortages and present its recommendations to Congress by the end of 2019 to ensure that appropriate supplies of essential medications are always available. "Shortage medications include local anesthetics, injectable opioids, ophthalmic diagnostics, and even sterile IV fluids necessary for delivering nearly every drug used in an emergency department or surgical setting," the lawmakers write. "These are essential products used every day, and for many of them there are no suitable alternatives that are readily available."

For the last few years, the U.S. has experienced an increased frequency of drug shortages, which have caused a number of difficulties for clinicians and patients. Medication shortages are caused by many factors, including difficulties in acquiring raw materials, manufacturing problems, regulatory issues, and natural disasters. Shortages can adversely affect patient care when alternative treatments are substituted for safe and effective therapies. Shortages can also compromise or delay medical procedures; or may cause medication errors and can significantly burden health care providers' finances and personnel.

ASPS created a website dedicated to this issue, where each month new information is posted.