Since last year, the U.S. has been dealing with a shortage of albuterol, a drug primarily used to dilate the airways of children with asthma… and it might get worse.
Last month, the generic drugmaker Akorn Pharmaceuticals reportedly filed for bankruptcy. Now, only one company is manufacturing the popular medication in its liquid form.
But White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre is laughing about it.
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At a press conference Wednesday, ABC News reporter Karen Travers asked, “Is the White House concerned about this right now? And what does the White House see as the cause of this specific shortage that’s causing headlines right now?… This drug has been on the FDA shortage list since the fall.”
Jean-Pierre neglected to answer any questions about the administration’s views or actions.
Worse yet, she laughed.
“Federal health officials are working closely with manufacturers — as we have done, again, with past products — and healthcare providers to alleviate any choke on the system. [The federal officials] don’t want to hesitate to take further action, if necessary, using all tools that they have available… as we’ve done, you know, periodically, with shortages of medical products,” Jean-Pierre said, laughing.
“I know you’ve asked me multiple questions about other products… So, I would refer you to the F.D.A. … This is certainly something that the FDA is tracking — has been tracking for months now. And we’re going to continue to have conversations with the manufacturers.”
The U.S. has seen several shortages since the pandemic, including last year’s shortage of baby formula.
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Take a look —
Karine Jean-Pierre chuckles at the large number of medication shortages there have been on Biden’s watch. pic.twitter.com/TQTomzqqCd
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) March 8, 2023
The reporter also asked Jean-Pierre to describe any “steps taken by the FDA and the administration.”
Jean-Pierre just referred her to the F.D.A. again.
“This is something that they’ve been tracking,” Jean-Pierre said. “They’ve been having conversation with manufacturers. And — and this is something that, of course, with — like any other product that has come — come up where there was a potential shortage or some questions of shortage, they’ve dealt with this.”
The F.D.A. described the shortage as affecting only nebulizers, not inhalers. In a statement obtained by ABC News, the agency announced, “This shortage does not impact albuterol inhalers for personal use.”
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The reporter followed up, “Broadly, does the White House believe it’s the job of the administration to make sure that there aren’t shortages of vital medications like this?”
“I mean, you’ve seen us take action,” Jean-Pierre replied, without citing an example. “We’ve seen the FDA take action over a host of products, as I just mentioned, to talk to manufacturers to see what’s going on, to see how — how we can be helpful if at all possible, because we think it’s important.”
The Horn editorial team