Cancer Care Providers Encouraged by House Action on Drug Shortages

Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing includes several promising measures to address the cancer drug shortage crisis
September 14, 2023

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing today on several bills aimed at addressing the ongoing U.S. drug shortage crisis.

Many of the bills contain provisions the Association for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) supports as effective means to mitigate and prevent drug shortages and promote a more resilient supply chain in the future including:

  • Requiring manufacturers to report when they are experiencing increases in demand, permanent discontinuance, or an interruption in manufacturing of a drug that is likely to have a meaningful disruption in the U.S. drug supply.
  • Requiring manufacturers to report supply chain information, including origin details, to increase transparency in the supply chain.
  • Requiring manufacturers of life-saving drugs to submit data to assess drug stability and determine their longest supported expiration date.

The subcommittee will also consider a draft bill from committee Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), which contains several provisions ASCO supports.

“It’s encouraging to see strong, bipartisan proposals being put forth on this critical issue,” said Association of Clinical Oncology Board Chair, Everett Vokes, MD, FASCO. “Millions of people with cancer and their doctors are relying on lawmakers and the Administration to work together to mitigate the current crisis and prevent the next. Without reliable access to critical drugs, Americans are going to continue to be on the edge of potentially catastrophic shortages of lifesaving medicines, including those for cancer.”

The current cancer drug shortages are the worst in decades with an estimated 500,000 cancer patients potentially impacted. Such shortages can result in treatment delays, compromised therapeutic regimens, and increased health care costs, all of which can exacerbate the already daunting challenges that patients face and can directly affect treatment outcomes and quality of life.

“Oncologists and patients should be making treatment decisions based on the best possible outcome, not based on the availability of a generic drug,” said Vokes. “We’re hopeful today’s hearing is the next step toward examining and enacting meaningful measures to address the many root causes of this complex problem and ultimately ensure this kind of crisis never happens again.”

Read ASCO’s full statement for the record on this hearing.