A group of progressive lawmakers have asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to further its efforts to address the shortage of over-the-counter flu and cold medicines, proposing a number of updated measures to improve accessibility.
In a letter to FDA Commissioner Robert Califf, six Democratic House members stated that despite improvements that have been made in the shortages of ibuprofen and acetaminophen, concerns still remain.
Supplies of these common fever and pain relievers became strained this winter with the concurrent spread of COVID-19, the flu and RSV, with parents, in particular, seeking to get medicines to help with their children’s respiratory virus symptoms.
The letter was signed by Democratic Reps. Ro Khanna (Calif.), Barbara Lee (Calif.), Sara Jacobs (Calif.), Troy Carter (La.), Bennie Thompson (Miss.) and Jamaal Bowman (N.Y.).
“Despite round-the-clock efforts from manufacturers, demand for these medicines is outpacing supply,” wrote the lawmakers.
The lawmakers proposed three actions that could help with the shortage: providing pharmacists with guidance on alternatives to pediatric ibuprofen and acetaminophen; encouraging heightened transparency from manufacturers regarding supply locations and demand; and proactively communicating directly with health care providers through public outreach about the shortages.
“As a parent, I’ve experienced the impact of this shortage firsthand. Even as manufacturers increase their levels of production, the ‘triple pandemic’ of Covid-19, RSV, and Flu, is keeping pharmacy shelves around the country empty,” Khanna said in a statement provided to The Hill.
“The agency must provide clear guidance to healthcare providers about the steps they can take now to ensure that all children have the medicine they need,” he added. “The FDA should also communicate directly with American families, and push for transparency from manufacturers about the supply issues to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”
The FDA has already taken some action to help alleviate the shortages
To help with “record high demand,” the FDA issued guidance earlier this month allowing outsourcing facilities, locations that compound sterile drugs, to compound certain oral suspensions of ibuprofen to supply to hospitals and health systems.