Mass. Congressional Delegation Raises Concerns About Drug and Medical Device Shortages in Local Hospitals
Lawmakers Request FDA Take Additional Steps to Address Shortages in Aftermath of Hurricane Maria
Washington, DC - The Massachusetts congressional delegation, including United States Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward J. Markey, and Representatives Richard Neal, James McGovern, Michael Capuano, Stephen F. Lynch, Niki Tsongas, William Keating, Joseph P. Kennedy III, Katherine Clark and Seth Moulton, today sent a letter to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb highlighting the impact of drug and medical device shortages on Massachusetts medical centers in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. The letter comes after Senator Warren led a congressional delegation trip to Puerto Rico last month to conduct oversight of Hurricane Maria recovery efforts.
In their letter, the Massachusetts lawmakers expressed concern about the shortage of drug and medical devices caused by Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico and crippled the island's pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturing capabilities. "Four months after Hurricane Maria, drug and device shortages caused by the hurricane in Puerto Rico continue to challenge medical providers," the lawmakers wrote. "We are particularly concerned that shortages of IV bags, saline, amino acids, and emergency medications like epinephrine and norepinephrine have forced hospitals to alter their care practices, compound their own medications, and ration devices and drugs amidst an increasingly severe flu season."
While acknowledging that the FDA has taken steps to address the drug and medical device shortages, the lawmakers outlined the ongoing struggles faced by Massachusetts hospitals such as Boston Medical Center and Massachusetts General Hospital. "While our state hospitals continue to provide the highest-quality medical care to patients, addressing these shortages is costly and time-consuming," the lawmakers continued. "We appreciate the steps that the agency has already taken to combat these drug shortages, and look forward to working with you on additional steps to ensure that medical centers in Massachusetts and across the nation have the resources and supplies they need."
To better understand these challenges, the lawmakers requested a briefing with the FDA to discuss the shortages and the agency's strategies to address them.
Since Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Senator Warren has:
- Led the Massachusetts congressional delegation in writing to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to request information on SAMHSA's efforts to address mental health challenges in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
- Led a congressional delegation trip to Puerto Rico to conduct oversight of Hurricane Maria recovery efforts.
- Led eight of her colleagues on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee in writing to HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) to request that the Committee hold hearings to assess the challenges facing the health and educational systems of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
- Called for an investigation of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) decision to award over $30 million in contracts to Bronze Star LLC for temporary roofing materials in Puerto Rico that were never delivered. (The DHS IG has said it will investigate.)
- Introduced a comprehensive plan, along with Senator Sanders and colleagues, to address the immediate humanitarian needs in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and ensure that the islands not only recover, but are able to rebuild in a way that empowers them to thrive.
- Led five of her Senate colleagues in writing to the Department of Defense to request information on the Department's efforts to provide medical care in the aftermath of Hurricanes Maria, and to request information on the role of the USNS Comfort in the Department's Puerto Rico response efforts.
- Joined colleagues in urging Senate appropriators to include in a third disaster supplemental bill additional funding to help schools impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
- Urged Puerto Rico's Financial Oversight and Management Board to request that the Court overseeing Puerto Rico's debt restructuring completely write off the Island's debt obligations.
- Led a group of 12 senators asking the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for information about water- and vector-borne diseases in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
- Written to the Trump Administration outlining what ought to be included in a third disaster supplemental appropriations bill to address the damage caused by hurricanes and wildfires across the country.
- Joined colleagues in demanding federal agencies expedite power restoration efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
- Joined in leading a group of 7 senators in pushing the Trump administration to increase efforts on Vieques and Culebra, especially securing the Vieques Superfund site.
- Urged the Department of Education to use its discretion to help college students and student loan borrowers displaced or otherwise unable to continue their education in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
- Led a group of senators urging DHS to take steps to ensure the accuracy of the official fatality count in Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
- Called for Puerto Rico's debt relief during a Capitol Hill rally in coordination with the #JustRecovery march.
- Participated in a FEMA briefing on the status of recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
- Led a coalition of senators in a letter to President Trump, urging him to step up disaster recovery efforts on the Puerto Rican islands of Vieques and Culebra.
- Held community meetings in Massachusetts to discuss the economic and humanitarian crises on the islands.
- Pressed President Trump to take eight immediate, specific actions in response to the crisis in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
- Urged HHS to provide additional resources and better coordinate efforts to combat the growing public health crisis on the ground.
- Called on the President to use his authority under the Defense Production Act to more swiftly respond to the disaster.
- Written to Republican leadership requesting that Congress be allowed to promptly take up legislation to provide the necessary aid to the U.S. citizens living on the islands.
- Asked President Trump to waive the local cost-sharing requirement for the hurricane response in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and for the federal government to fully cover recovery expenses.
- Joined Senator Markey in calling for a resolution to the Univision-Verizon retransmission dispute, to hasten the restoration of Spanish-language news programming in the wake of the hurricanes.
Next Article Previous Article