Securing access to essential medicine during cold and flu season


By Sen. Sherrod Brown - Contributing columnist



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No parent should have to drive for hours, checking pharmacy after pharmacy, to find a basic but crucial medicine for a sick child.

And no child should have to wait, trying to battle a simple infection that turns into something much worse, because they couldn’t get the medicine they need.

But it’s happening in Ohio and across the country right now.

We’re at the beginning of cold and flu season and both families and prescribers can’t find amoxicillin.

As all parents know, amoxicillin is the front-line antibiotic used to treat childhood illnesses ranging from ear infections to pneumonia. And there’s a shortage of the liquid version of the drug.

That’s why I – and a bipartisan group of colleagues in the Senate – wrote a letter to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and to the FDA Commissioner asking both agencies to start a drug shortage task force to address this shortage.

We need to know why there isn’t enough of this common, potentially lifesaving drug and offer solutions to fix the problem.

The pandemic revealed gaping holes and vulnerabilities in our supply chains, perhaps none more critical than our medical supply chain. We know that generic drugs make up 90 percent of all prescriptions filled in the United States, and about 87 percent of active pharmaceutical ingredients used in those drugs are made overseas. Right now, there is only one licensed manufacturer of amoxicillin in the U.S.

This current crisis highlights again the need for my bipartisan PREPARE Act, which would create an emergency, domestic supply of key ingredients used in essential generic medicines. It would also put a priority on domestic manufacturing of these ingredients, so we can build a more resilient supply chain here in the U.S.

There is no reason we should be relying on countries like China or India for nearly 90 percent of these critical pharmaceutical ingredients.

We need to learn the lessons of COVD-19, and make sure we are better prepared for future emergencies.

And we can’t forget what’s at the center of all this – keeping Americans safe and healthy – especially our children and grandchildren.

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By Sen. Sherrod Brown

Contributing columnist

Sherrod Brown is the senior U.S. senator from Ohio.

Sherrod Brown is the senior U.S. senator from Ohio.