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House Passes Bill to Make Pharmaceuticals Safer

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The House of Representatives today passed H.R. 3204, the Drug Quality and Security Act. Congressman Joe Pitts (PA-16), as Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, led negotiations that resulted in this legislation to make America's drug supply safer.

"Even as Congress is far apart on many issues, the Energy and Commerce Committee is working together to pass legislation to make sure the drugs we take are safe," said Pitts. "We may have been far apart at the beginning, but we stuck to negotiations and worked out a fair compromise that is supported by both sides of the aisle and critical industry associations."

This legislation would address two important issues affecting the quality and security of America's drug supply. First, the bill would protect traditional pharmacies and clarify laws related to human drug compounding in response to last year's nationwide meningitis outbreak -- one of the largest public health crises in recent memory. Second, the bill would strengthen the prescription drug supply chain in order to protect American families against counterfeit drugs.

Last year, a Massachusetts company, the New England Compounding Center (NECC), shipped over 17,000 vials of an injectable steroid solution from three contaminated lots to health care facilities across the country. After receiving injections of NECC's contaminated steroid, over 50 people died from complications associated with fungal meningitis, and 700 others were stricken with meningitis or other persistent fungal infections.

"The Food and Drug Administration failed to take strong measures to shut down NECC, even though the deficiencies of their facility were well known," said Pitts. "We want to make sure that in the future the FDA acts promptly to make sure pharmacies are clean and patients can rely on the safety of their drugs."

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