FDA keeps close eye on possible drug shortage in US

Updated: Mar. 17, 2020 at 4:55 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Most of the ingredients in our prescriptions are from China, India and the European Union. All have been rocked by the spread of COVID-19.

The Federal Food Drug Administration is keeping a close eye on if it will cause any major drug shortages.

“Anytime you have panic ensue, people think about their bread, their milk, their eggs and their toilet paper apparently, and they think about their medications,” Dr. Chasity Shelton with UT Health Sciences College of Pharmacy said.

Pharmacists are not strangers to drug shortages.

“Back in 2017, when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, we had a huge shortage on saline,” Dr. Shelton said.

But the COVID-19 pandemic is something they’ve had their eyes on from the beginning. Dr. Shelton said the FDA has been talking to drug manufacturers since January.

“The FDA was being proactive in asking those manufacturers to do a review of their supply chain,” Dr. Shelton said.

Dr. Shelton says an FDA 2019 report shows 14% of plants that make up pharmaceutical ingredients come from China. It’ the third most behind India and the European Union.

The FDA has reported one drug shortage because of COVID-19 but didn’t name the drug.

“We’re fortunate to have alternative agents to transition patients to,” Dr. Shelton said.

Last week Governor Bill Lee signed an executive order allowing patients to get a 30-day supply of prescriptions.

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