FDA forms task force to address drug shortages

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced Thursday the creation of a task force to address persistent drug shortages in the United States. Although the number of new drug shortages has decreased since 2011, some medically necessary products continue to be in short supply.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced Thursday the creation of a task force to address persistent drug shortages in the United States. Although the number of new drug shortages has decreased since 2011, some medically necessary products continue to be in short supply. "Even shortages of a small number of key drugs can place a serious burden on providers," Gottlieb noted. The new Drug Shortages Task Force—to be led by Keagan Lenihan, FDA's associate commissioner for strategic initiatives—will seek holistic solutions to addressing the root causes for these shortages. Other members of the task force will include senior leaders from FDA, CMS, and the Department of Veterans Affairs. "As we stand up the task force, we intend to establish several dedicated workgroups to look at various aspects" of drug shortages, Gottlieb explained. "These will include an examination of the FDA's current authorities. It will also evaluate the reimbursement policies from CMS and other payors that could be making it difficult for companies to manufacture certain drugs profitably." He also suggested the task force should consider possible incentives for encouraging the expansion of manufacturing capacity. "We'll be looking at whether it makes sense to develop a critical drugs list, or a list of essential drugs," said Gottlieb.