Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) asked FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn in a Feb. 6 letter whether the FDA “has the necessary tools to ensure the safety and supply” of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies imported from China. The letter addresses China’s predicament with the 2019-nCoV virus, and noted that the U.S. imported nearly $13 billion in goods from China in 2018, which includes pharmaceuticals and medical devices. That figure does not account for “certain organic chemicals” used to manufacture pharmaceuticals, also imported from China. Murphy and Rubio noted that while the U.S. CDC had previously opined that it is unlikely that the coronavirus would be transmitted by the shipment of those products, the coronavirus pandemic in China could impede the FDA’s ability to conduct inspections of plants located there. They also noted that China’s domestic demand for drugs and devices could affect the volumes exported to the U.S. The letter requests that the FDA respond with information regarding whether the FDA is equipped to ensure that the coronavirus predicament will affect availability of drugs and devices, and whether the agency’s routine inspection schedule for the current calendar year has been affected. They urged the agency to respond by Feb. 18.

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