In a bid to extend authorization of and funding for a program supporting state-developed stockpiles of critical drugs, vaccines and other medical supplies, U.S. Reps. Early Carter (R-GA) and Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) introduced the State Strategic Stockpile Act (H.R. 3631) last week.
Such stockpiles, like the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS), allow for readily-available medical supplies to be tapped in case of public health emergencies or supply chain disruptions. By having state stockpiles, the reasoning is that they can serve as supplements to the SNS, while granting states the flexibility to develop, expand or maintain their own stockpiles of medical supplies.
Problematically, the bill’s authors noted, the United States is facing a shortage of more than 130 essential medications.
“During the pandemic, Georgia’s health care providers and patients struggled to access critical medical supplies and personal protective equipment,” Carter said. “We can never let this happen again. This bipartisan bill ensures that states have the resources they need to respond quickly to future public health emergencies without solely relying on the federal Strategic National Stockpile.”
As written, the bill would only make one change as it would update the Public Health Service Act to change the end date from 2024 to 2028. As of now, it has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
“We still are experiencing some of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic such as drug shortages from which we need to recover. We also need to be prepared in case of a future public health emergency. It’s crucial that we have a federal Strategic National Stockpile, but states shouldn’t have to rely on that as their only resource,” Houlahan said. “I am proud to lead on this bipartisan bill to ensure states, like Pennsylvania, which was affected by pandemic supply shortages, can respond more quickly to possible epidemics and public health emergencies by using their own stockpile as a supplement to our federal stockpile.”
Provisions of the State Stockpile Readiness Act, which created a pilot program to support state medical stockpiles for fiscal years 2022-2024, were angled for and ultimately included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act last Congress by Carter.