Shortage of Pfizer and Merck therapeutics effective against omicron causing hospitals to prioritize some patients over others
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Today, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) called on the White House and federal agencies to take urgent steps to increase the production and availability of treatments that improve outcomes for patients with COVID-19. In Connecticut, hospitals have reported a severe shortage of some medications recently authorized by the FDA as effective against the omicron variant, including Pfizer’s Paxlovid and Merck’s Molnupiravir, forcing hospitals to prioritize care of some patients over others.
“I write today with deep concerns about shortages of COVID-19 therapeutics. Although the omicron variant produces milder symptoms in most people than previous strains, Connecticut hospitals – and other hospitals around the country – continue to experience a surge in patients needing medical care, leading to an urgent need for additional treatments,” wrote Blumenthal to White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra, and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Acting Commissioner Janet Woodcock. “Unfortunately, this nationwide shortage has forced health care providers to prioritize high risk patients— leaving out individuals who may benefit greatly from these treatments.”
Blumenthal applauded President Biden for doubling the federal government’s order of Pfizer’s Paxlovid treatment, described by providers as a “game-changer,” and urged continued action to ensure more effective treatments are available to all who need them.
“We must do better to ensure the COVID-19 patients who contract this virus are able to receive the best treatment possible, speeding recovery and reducing the demand on hospital beds,” Blumenthal continued.
Blumenthal also raised concerns relayed by doctors about challenges with identifying which COVID-19 variant is causing infections in their patients, and asked a series of questions about the federal strategy for ensuring effective COVID-19 therapeutics are readily available.
The full text of the letter can be found here.