Transcript: Rep. Danny Davis’ statement on the drug shortage crisis

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee

“Drug Shortage Crisis: Lives are in the Balance” hearing held on Nov. 30, 2011 by the Subcommittee on Health Care, District of Columbia, Census, and the National Archives

Transcript of opening statement by Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.):

Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.). IMAGE SOURCE:

“Thank you very much, Chairman Gowdy, for holding this hearing. I want to thank all of the witnesses who come to share with us.

“The drug shortage is a major concern to me as they should be to all who serve in this body. I happen to represent a congressional district that has 21 hospitals, four large medical center complexes, a number of research institutes, and we’re building a brand new children’s hospital now. So there’s nothing more important to us than the provision and delivery of health care.

“Our constituents – mothers, fathers, and children – depend on these drugs to survive and flourish daily. This body has successfully increased access to health care for millions. It would be a cruel irony for members to now sit on our hands as life-saving drugs are becoming unavailable. We must take the necessary steps and exhaust all available avenues to alleviate these shortages.

This hearing is a good initial first step. It is important to hear from physicians about the barriers that they face in providing care and treatment. These doctors can certainly testify and illustrate the impacts drug shortages are having on their patients. Their stories – and, in particular, the workarounds in providing alternative medicines when shortages occur – illustrate not only the difficulties this problem poses to patients but also the costs involved to our health care industry. Their stories are similar to those that have been expressed by a host of health care providers interviewed in the course of a lengthy investigation that Mr. [Elijah] Cummings launched into the issue of drug shortages and the impact they’re having and illuminating those who seek to profit from these shortages. Our ranking member had the foresight to open that investigation several months ago.

“Given our expertise, Mr. Chairman, I hope that this hearing and subsequent ones are an opportunity for us to work together to solve this problem and I believe that we can.

“As I prepared for the hearing today, I must say that I was disappointed and puzzled by the absence of the Food and Drug Administration. They are a critical piece of the puzzle. Their knowledge and insight would have been invaluable today. Further, if we’re truly seeking to delve into this issue, we must have all the relevant players at the table. The drug manufacturers, the distributors, and health care economists should all be here before us under oath.

“Mr. Chairman, again, I thank you for this hearing. But this is a very complicated and complex issue and requires a broader panel of witnesses than what we have here today. Therefore, I am requesting that a follow-up hearing with the manufacturers of these drugs, and I think we should strike while the iron is hot. I hope that we could schedule that hearing for maybe two weeks from now.

“I have a list of several drug manufacturers that should be requested to testify about the drug shortages, and with your indulgence, I’d like to share this list with you and your staff.

“I’d say let’s get these manufacturers here so we can understand the nature of this problem and move toward solutions to it, and I hope you could accommodate this request.

“I’d like to give you this list of manufacturers and ask that we seriously look at asking them to come before us. And I’ll say who they are. They are: Bedford Laboratories, APP Pharmaceuticals, Hospira, Tabuk Pharmaceutical, Sandoz, Abbott, Takeda, Baxter Oncology, Johnson & Johnson.”


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