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Tipsheet

Is This Biden’s Next Shortage Crisis?

From the first supply chain crisis that left a parking lot of ships outside America’s largest ports to the formula crisis and creating a scarcity of American energy, the Biden administration has shown creating shortages to be one of a few things it’s good at. 

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Now, it looks like there’s another looming shortage crisis thanks to the Biden EPA and its bureaucratic regulatory schemes. And Congress wants answers. 

In a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan, lawmakers on the House Energy and Commerce Committee — chaired by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) — urge the agency to stop delaying regulations for “reclaiming and reusing hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are essential for ensuring Americans have access to affordable medical devices, like inhalers." 

Not that it needs to be said, but inhalers are not a luxury. They're medically necessary for the patients to whom they are prescribed and simply not having one, or not being able to afford one, is not an option for millions of Americans. Yet again, however, the Biden administration is apparently failing to take the steps necessary to ensure that an adequate supply of affordable inhalers is readily available. 

As the lawmakers' letter explains, they are "concerned" that "Congress’s deliberate safeguards are being undermined by poor regulatory planning." Sounds like bureaucracy at work. 

Via the House Energy and Commerce Committee:

While we acknowledge EPA has been prioritizing the implementation of AIM over the last two years, EPA appears to have de-prioritized plans to implement fully AIM’s reclaim and reuse provisions. For instance, the White House’s most recent Unified Regulatory Agenda contains plans for two EPA rules for AIM, but only mentions EPA plans to ‘consider’ a rulemaking on the limited reclaim and reuse of HFCs. A more committed approach is needed...

One specific example highlighting the serious, real-world impact of delaying the implementation of AIM’s reclaim and reuse provisions relates to the potential lack of available or affordable meter dose inhalers (MDIs) for asthmatics. According to an EPA-requested, September 2021 market characterization analysis of the U.S. MDI industry, the current and projected amount of HFC propellant sold in MDIs in the U.S. was rising and projected to increase. The report further stated that six manufacturers, using HFC-134a as a propellant, supplied albuterol sulfate MDIs to the U.S. marketplace. Based on this report and historic manufacturer expectations, EPA awarded essential use allowances for 2023 to eight MDI manufacturers on October 1, 2022.  

A substantial percentage of the manufacturers identified to EPA are no longer making their product – creating market and affordability issues for patients and State Medicaid programs. We are worried that forcing albuterol MDI manufacturers to rely upon constrained and increasingly expensive options to satisfy the market’s needs jeopardizes the supply of essential public health devices and endangers drug access, availability, and affordability for Americans. Moreover, this is the very type of crisis Congress envisioned when it exempted reclaimed and recycled HFCs. EPA must open that pathway.

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While it's not too late for the EPA to do what's necessary to correct the issue before it becomes a dire crisis, this situation does again highlight the Biden administration's priorities that are misaligned with what Americans actually want and need. 

In recent days, the EPA and Administrator Regan have rolled out the most stringent vehicle standards in U.S. history, part of President Biden's plan to "end fossil fuels" and force an "energy transition." Did those efforts on vehicle standards mean that regulations around HFCs needed for inhalers got put on a back burner?

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