Obama to order new FDA action on drug shortages

The Obama administration is wading into the drug-shortage fray. The president plans to sign an executive order that aims to alleviate scarcity of many important drugs, including key cancer therapies, the New York Times reports. However, the question remains whether the directive--or any single directive--can actually do much to fight the shortages.

Obama's order will require the FDA to expand reporting on potential drug shortages, accelerate review of new applications to manufacture scarce meds, and share more information with the Justice Department to help fight price gouging, the NYT reports. Similar provisions are part of legislation that's been lagging in Congress since February.

"The president's action is a recognition of the fact that this is a serious problem, and we can and should do more to help solve it," an administration official told the Times. "We can't wait anymore."

The order stops short of several measures that some in the drug industry had advocated, such as a national drug stockpile. And it doesn't address the root causes of some shortages, such as a scarcity of particular raw materials. The administration is working to identify those causes and plans to release two analyses of the market for injectable drugs, which dominate the list of scarce meds.

- read the NYT piece
- get more from Bloomberg
- check out the Dow Jones story

Special Report: Top drug shortages by treatment category