‘Will I die if I don’t get my medicine’ – Congress examines drug shortages

WASHINGTON — People can’t get the medications they need to survive or live healthier lives because of drug shortages and Congress wants to know why.

Laura Bray testified on Capitol Hill about these issues. Four years ago, her daughter, Abby was diagnosed with Leukemia.

“We were told we were lucky that this Leukemia, unlike many other pediatric cancers, has a cure,” she told lawmakers.

So, Abby started a drug regimen.

“When a child doesn’t want to take her meds anymore, when they can’t take the pain of being poked and prodded again, when they lose their hair, when it’s just too much, we all focus on the importance of the medicine for their survival,” Bray said.

Then, the family got more bad news.

“I was sitting in a hospital room with Abby when I first heard the words ‘we don’t have the drug needed today; it’s on shortage,’” Bray recalled. “My Abby, our fierce middle child, caught it right away and said ‘I thought I needed this. Does this mean I die?’”

Abby’s miracle cure was hit by shortages of three different drugs over nine months. So Bray started a nonprofit with the mission of ending this issue. It’s called Angels for Change.

The family isn’t alone -- The FDA lists more than 120 drugs currently in shortages. Another tally from pharmacists has more than 230 drug shortages. Drugs like common antibiotics, asthma drugs and heart meds have been in short supply.

The conversation on Capitol Hill turned to transparency and collaboration.

“Greater transparency will help us better understand where we need to shore up the domestic production and invest in new technologies,” Rep. Kathy Castor (D) Florida said.

“We must encourage American innovation, increase domestic manufacturing capabilities and promote the adoption of quality generic drugs,” Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R) Washington said.

Bray told lawmakers it will take a multi-layered approach to solve a problem with such high stakes.

“Together we can ensure no child will ask their parent, ‘will I die if I don’t get my medicine,’” she added.

Download the FREE WPXI News app for breaking news alerts.

Follow Channel 11 News on Facebook and Twitter. | Watch WPXI NOW