40 drugs, medical devices at risk of shortages following Hurricane Maria

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Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, said about 40 drugs and medical devices could experience national shortages due to manufacturing disruptions in Puerto Rico, reports The New York Times.

More than 80 drug and medical device manufacturing plants are struggling to resume normal operations on the island following Hurricane Maria. The drug plants produce 13 of the world's top-selling brand-name drugs, including the arthritis treatment Humira and the blood thinner Xarelto, along with other critical medications for cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

"We have a list of about 40 drugs that we're very concerned about. It reflects maybe about 10 firms," Dr. Gottlieb told the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health this week, according to The Times. "Some of these products are critical to Americans. A loss of access could have significant public health consequences."

Thirteen of the products at risk for a shortage are "sole-source," or only manufactured by one company, according to Dr. Gottlieb.

Federal officials are working with drug and device companies to restore operations in Puerto Rico. Dr. Gottlieb said the companies' biggest manufacturing hurdle is navigating an unstable electricity supply, as all major power grids in Puerto Rico are down and diesel fuel to run backup generators is in short supply.

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