What We're Reading: Food Safety Guidance Forthcoming; Drug Supply Chain Safety in Doubt; COVID-19 Vaccine Contracts Questioned

June 3, 2020

Because of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the FDA was forced to delay updated food safety tracing guidelines; the Government Accountability Office is not happy with the current safety of the US drug supply chain; House committee chairs are seeking more details on the government’s COVID-19 vaccine contracts with drug makers.

FDA Will Soon Issue Enhanced Food Safety Tracking Measures

In a statement released yesterday on its website, the FDA relayed that due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the release of its New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint was temporarily delayed. Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, MD, and Frank Yiannas, deputy commissioner for Food Policy and Response, noted that the new tracing system will contain improved digital capabilities, which COVID-19 necessitated. This will be especially important in cases of foodborne outbreaks due to contamination, as well as understanding supply-chain capabilities when there is a public health emergency.

Is the US Drug Supply Chain as Safe as It Could Be?

The Drug Supply Chain Security Act, as outlined by the FDA, is meant to “protect consumers from exposure to drugs that may be counterfeit, stolen, contaminated, or otherwise harmful.” However, according to the Government Accountability Office, reports STAT, there are several safety deficiencies in the current US drug supply chain, as reported in a hearing yesterday before the Senate Finance Committee. Chief among them is that foreign drug manufacturers are alerted of impending site inspections, while domestic manufacturers are not.

Will COVID-19 Vaccines Be Affordable?

US House representatives James Clyburn, D-South Carolina, and Carolyn Maloney, D-New York, are pushing for the Trump administration to release more details on the contracts that the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority has established with over a dozen private companies to develop and market COVID-19 vaccines, according to The Hill. At the heart of their inquiry is wanting to know if the contracts ensure that these vaccines will be affordable when they eventually reach the people, as the pharmaceutical industry will not currently provide such assurance.