6 medical groups to Congress: We need a 'comprehensive strategy' for critical drug shortages

Six medical groups signed a letter to leaders of a House subcommittee Thursday, urging them to develop a comprehensive strategy to address serious drug shortages.

Here are four things to know.

1. The letter's signees were the American Hospital Association, American Society of Anesthesiologists, American Society of Clinical Oncology, American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, and Institute for Safe Medication Practices.

2. Recent drug shortages stemming from manufacturing delays in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico have left the U.S. healthcare system "on the brink of a significant public health crisis," the medical groups wrote in the letter.

3. The groups' most immediate concern is the potential care implications associated with an ongoing shortage of small-volume parenteral solutions. While the Food and Drug Administration has allowed drug companies to import IV solutions from Ireland and Australia, the healthcare groups believe this will only satisfy 10 to 15 percent of the U.S. healthcare industry's demand and feel further actions are needed.

"We are eager to work with Congress and the Administration to address both this near-term crisis, as well as a more comprehensive strategy to manage such situations moving forward," the groups said.

4. They urged the leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations to develop a concrete plan for responding to drug shortages and assess how the drug industry shares information about where drugs are manufactured.

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"To date, no state or federal law requires that this information be disclosed," the medical groups wrote. "This lack of transparency puts healthcare systems at a significant disadvantage when trying to take a proactive approach to handling a potential drug shortage."

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