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Legislation Affecting Drug Shortage Considered by Congress

Publish Date: 6/6/2012

Federal legislators are considering legislation that would help to alleviate the drug shortage in the United States. Should this legislation pass, drug manufacturers that manufacture drugs that are life-supporting, life-sustaining, or intended for use in the prevention of a debilitating disease or condition, would be required to notify the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services of any interruption or discontinuance of the drug at least six months before interrupting or ceasing production of the drug. The federal government would then have an opportunity to explore solutions such as finding other suppliers. Hospitals would also be notified of the impending cease in production and would be able to prepare for it.

House Bill 5651 passed the U.S. House on a 387-5 vote and Senate Bill 3187 passed the U.S. Senate 96-1. Both houses amended their bills on the floor, so work is currently being done to reconcile the versions of the bill before sending it to President Obama for signature. Patient safety groups are hopeful that Obama will be able to sign the bill this June or July.

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