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Wednesday February 22, 2012 | 07:10 AM

Sen. Susan Collins has applauded the decision by federal regulators Tuesday to allow the import into the United States of two cancer treatment drugs that haven’t been available from domestic suppliers in recent months.

But the Maine Republican says the shortages of the drugs doxorubicin and methotrexate, which stem from problems at suppliers factories, show the need to pass legislation she has co-authored that would require drug manufacturers to alert the U.S. Food and Drug Administration of any incident that could cause a drug shortage. The bill, also authored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., requires the FDA to tell the public about shortages of as they occur and what steps the agency will be taking to address the problem.

FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg told the Associated Press Tuesday that her agency has been able to prevent shortages through manufacturers voluntarily notifying the FDA about expected shortages. But Collins says the FDA needs more power.

“Allowing the importation of these two drugs is a step in the right direction, but it does not go far enough to address this very serious long-term problem,” Collins said in a statement Tuesday.  “I remain concerned about numerous other drugs still in short supply, many having no effective substitute.  It is vital that Congress act to give the FDA the tools it needs to address the current shortages and prevent future ones.”

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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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