BALTIMORE (WJZ)—There’s an unlikely connection between critical shortages of life-saving drugs and the University of Maryland women’s basketball coach.
Baltimore Congressman Elijah Cummings is the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee.
Pat Warren reports he was moved by the story of Coach Brenda Frese’s son.
Congressman Cummings takes a shot at drug companies, and Maryland women’s basketball Coach Frese gets credit for the assist.
Frese urged Cummings to investigate the cause of drug shortages that directly affected her family.
“My 3-year-old son Tyler is a leukemia patient who has benefitted from Cytarabine,” she wrote. “We are lucky that some of the drug was available to him. It makes me feel outraged that other families are being told this vital drug isn’t available.”
Marcia Goodman was preparing for chemotherapy when she was told her drug had run out.
“And so my heart just sank,” Goodman said.
The FDA heard from doctors frustrated by the shortage of drugs.
“Pharmaceutical representatives spend bazillions of dollars trying to influence me to buy their drug. I’ll buy ’em. I’ll use ’em. OK, just make ’em ,” said Dr. Frederick Blum, American College of Emergency Physicians.
The shortage of Cytarabine and other critically needed drugs are reportedly caused by manufacturing delays. But Cummings is targeting middleman companies that buy drugs that are in short supply and sell them at exorbitant prices, a form of drug speculation.
The prospect of drug companies putting profit margins ahead of patients prompted Coach Frese to act.
“My son Tyler wouldn’t be alive today if they didn’t have access to the drugs that rid his body of cancer,” she wrote to Cummings.
Cummings has sent letters to five companies suspected of charging 40-80 times the regular cost for drugs because they are in short supply.
The congressman has opened a tipline for information on price gouging and drug speculation. Click here for more information.