Too Close to Home: Combating the Prescription Drug Shortage
By: Governor Kristi Noem
July 14, 2023
“Kristi, he’s turning blue!”
Those were the words of my mom when my son, Booker, was just four years old. I was helping out with the annual picnic at our church when she came racing over to me saying she was taking him to the hospital. Booker had breathing problems ever since he was born, but this time my son was quite literally turning blue because he could not breathe. Ten minutes later, we had him checked into the hospital receiving life-saving medication.
Throughout much of Booker’s childhood, he relied on the prescription drug Albuterol on almost a daily basis. Without it, he wouldn’t have been able to breathe. I can only imagine how helpless I would have felt if I couldn’t get my son the medication he so desperately needed – but that’s exactly what so many parents are experiencing right now.
The entire country is facing a shortage of essential prescription drugs. Even Amoxicillin – the most used antibiotic in the country – has face widespread shortages with no good explanation for why.
Families in South Dakota are being hit hard. Doctors, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals are having to tell patients that they don’t have the medicine they need. Nobody should have to experience that kind of worry, especially not in the United States of America.
What’s worse, these shortages are being driven by nations that do not have America’s best interest at heart. China and India have taken control of more than 70% of generic drug manufacturing. As I have said many times before, when another country controls our critical resources, they will control us.
In the past, when China threatened our way of life, South Dakota stood up. We will do so again.
We’re taking action to combat this nationwide shortage of prescription drugs. The South Dakota Department of Health manages an inventory of medications to stockpile them in case of key shortages. We are expanding this medical cache to five additional cities across the state. We’re also diversifying the types of medications that are stored.
Expanding this medical cache will help us to be prepared for the colder months when respiratory illnesses become far more common. We’re doing everything that we can as a state to address this challenge, but Washington, D.C. needs to step up.
I have urged Congress and the FDA to take swift action in the following areas:
- Increase transparency in the supply chain;
- Increase diversity in manufacturing;
- Create a more favorable regulatory environment to boost U.S. manufacturing; and
- Allow waivers so that we can purchase medicine from countries like Canada.
South Dakota can act – and believe me, we are – but we can’t fix this on our own. We need decisive action from Congress and the FDA. It’s time for them to provide long-term policy solutions that will address the prescription drug shortage in America.
I’m grateful that we were able to treat Booker’s breathing problems efficiently and effectively. And now, seeing what so many of our families are going through, I know how lucky we truly were. Mothers should never have to worry about whether or not the life-saving medication their child needs will be available.
This is a crisis that hits too close to home for us to ignore. Together with Congress and the FDA, South Dakota will keep on combatting the prescription drug shortage.