Public Citizen slams the FDA for not identifying drug in coronavirus-related shortage

Consumer advocacy group Public Citizen slammed the FDA for not disclosing the name of the drug in shortage due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The FDA said Feb. 27 that the U.S. is experiencing its first drug shortage related to the coronavirus outbreak, but didn't disclose the name of the affected drug or the drugmaker. The agency told Becker's Hospital Review the information is considered "confidential commercial information" and that drugmakers aren't legally required to provide detailed information. 

In a letter to FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, MD, dated March 3, Public Citizen wrote that it is "dismayed by the refusal of the FDA to identify the medication." 

It argued that the name of the drug shouldn't be considered confidential commercial information because it isn't reasonable to expect it would cause substantial competitive harm and because publicly traded pharmaceutical companies already have to disclose that information to their shareholders. 

"Important public health interests must take precedence over any purported industry interest in keeping such information secret," Public Citizen wrote. 

The group said that knowing which drug is in shortage will help the medical community better understand and prepare for adverse effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Public Citizen said it is urging the FDA to immediately disclose on its website and in a news release the specific drug involved in the shortage and to commit to disclosing all future drug shortages linked to COVID-19. 

"Full transparency by all government agencies involved in the response to the COVID-19 epidemic is essential for maintaining the public’s trust. Any hint that the government is hiding important information sows distrust," Public Citizen wrote. 

Read the full letter here

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