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Cummings Applauds Passage of Bipartisan Legislation to Improve Pharmaceutical Drug Distribution System: Bill Includes Cummings’ Provisions to Combat Unethical “Gray Market” Drug Distributors

Sep 28, 2013
Press Release

Washington, D.C.—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, applauded House passage of H.R. 3204, Drug Quality and Security Act, a bipartisan, bicameral bill that will improve consumer
drug safety. 

The bill includes several provisions from H.R. 1958, The Gray Market Drug Reform and Transparency Act of 2013, which was introduced by Cummings to address “gray market” drug companies that engage in unethical activities and charge exorbitant prices for drugs used to treat cancer and other life-threatening conditions.  

“I am heartened that this bipartisan legislation addresses a problem I have been investigating for several years,” said Cummings.  “I believe this legislation will help stem unethical profiteering at the expense of patients, address weaknesses in the supply chain, and improve drug safety and efficacy by strengthening oversight and transparency of gray market drug companies.”

One provision introduced by Cummings that was included in H.R. 3204 is a requirement for drug wholesalers to report to the Department of Health and Human Services disciplinary actions at the state level in order to prevent unethical companies from opening up shop in their states.  The bill also includes a proposal introduced by Cummings to create a new, public database of authorized wholesale distributors so consumers and regulators can access information about state licensing status and corporate information.

Cummings launched his investigation after receiving a heartfelt letter in 2011 from Brenda Frese, the head coach of the University of Maryland women’s basketball team, whose three-year-old son was diagnosed with leukemia andcalled cytarabine that was facing critical shortages.   needed a drug called cytarabine that was facing critical shortages. 

“I thank Coach Frese for alerting me to this issue several years ago, and I hope she realizes the impact she had in achieving these reforms,” said Cummings.

Cummings has been investigating this issue jointly with Senator John D. Rockefeller, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and Senator Tom Harkin, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.  They issued a report in July 2012 that formed the basis for these provisions.

Issues: 
113th Congress