March 12, 2018
ASA and Drug Shortage Stakeholders Urge DEA Action on Opioid Shortage
On February 27, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) and the American Society of Health System Pharmacists (ASHP), along with other drug shortage stakeholders sent a joint letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) requesting the agency adjust aggregate production quotas (APQ) for certain opioids in order to mitigate ongoing drug shortages.
In the formal letter, the organizations write that hospitals and other providers are currently facing critical shortages of a number of injectable opioid medications, including morphine, hydromorphone, and fentanyl, used for sedation in surgery, intensive care units, and patients that have a contraindication for oral opioid medications. The organizations request that DEA temporarily reallocate or revise APQ so that other suppliers can temporarily produce these needed products.
Shortages of injectable opioids may threaten patient care in hospitals and surgical centers, and while the groups share DEA's concerns about stemming the nation's opioid crisis, injectable opioids remain a crucial component of patient management during and immediately after many operations. ASA and the stakeholders share concerns that with these opioid shortages, delays in surgeries may be life-threatening to the patient or increase the risk of medication errors.
In addition to urging action at DEA, ASA has also continued to urge Congress to renew its efforts to address drug shortages. In November of 2017, ASA re-convened with ASHP and other stakeholders in November 2017 to discuss ongoing challenges and new recommendations for Congress. Following the stakeholder meeting in November 2017, ASA and others sent a formal communication to Congress urging increased transparency regarding drug shortages, as well as improvements to manufacturing infrastructure. In the letter to Reps. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) and Diana DeGette (D-CO) — the Vice Chairman and Ranking Member, respectively, of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations -- signatories urged Congress to examine several questions to address the underlying causes of shortages.