WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) urged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to continue to work towards keeping the Ben Venue laboratory in Bedford open and finding the laboratory a permanent manufacturer in order to combat shortages of life saving drugs and protect local jobs.
“The temporary agreement to continue producing Doxil in Bedford is encouraging,” Brown said. “With current drug shortages and the need for manufacturing jobs in Northeast Ohio, I will continue to work with the FDA and the City of Bedford to find a permanent solution for the facility.”
In October 2013, Ben Venue, under the auspices of Boehringer Ingelheim, a German-based drug company, announced that it would stop production by the end of 2013 and phase out jobs through 2014. But according to the Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), there is a shortage of Doxorubicin (or “Doxil”), a cancer fighting drug used in chemotherapy that is made at the Bedford facility. Recently, a temporary agreement was reached that would enable a prescription drug maker, Johnson and Johnson (J&J), to lease portions of the facility and continue producing Doxil while retaining Bedford jobs.
With 117 new drug shortages in 2012, and 251 in 2011, Brown urged the FDA to work towards finding a permanent solution that would keep manufacturing in Bedford. Brown also urged the FDA to share its long-term strategy of utilizing laboratories like Bedford’s to fight domestic drug shortages for patients across the country. Brown’s letter to the Commissioner of the FDA, Margaret Hamburg, M.D., can be read in its entirety HERE.
Brown continues the fight to keep prescription drug manufacturing at the Bedford facility. Following Ben Venue’s announcement, Brown participated in a meeting between Bedford city officials, management from Ben Venue, and U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge (OH-11). During the meeting, Ben Venue agreed to work in close coordination with Bedford in order to help find a buyer for its facility, and agreed to weekly meetings with local officials. The company has operated in Bedford for more than 80 years.
Brown also continues to fight for the health and wellness of Ohio’s citizens by working to eliminate prescription drug shortages. In May 2013, he was apprised of a shortage of trace minerals that are used in tube feeding fragile preemies and other seriously ill patients by Ohio children’s hospitals, and joined colleagues on a letter imploring the FDA to find creative solutions to this shortage. As a result, the FDA found a supplier in a country with a known safe supply chain to fill the need until American manufacturing could resume. The shortage, and subsequent FDA action, affects infants in hospitals across the state, including Summit County’s Akron Children’s Hospital. Prior to FDA action, institutions like Akron Children’s had serious fears that the shortage could affect their treatment of critically ill babies.
In February 2012, Brown called on the FDA to address drug shortages by working with drug manufacturers to ramp up production of Methotrexate, a drug used to fight acute lymphoblastic leukemia (A.L.L.), childhood leukemia. Following Brown’s call, the FDA announced later that month that it prevented 114 shortages since the implementation of an Executive Order and that it approved production of a new drug to fight childhood leukemia.