The FDA is using Twitter to find weaknesses in the coronavirus testing supply chain

By Michael Grothaus

Have you been turning to Twitter a lot more to find information about all things related to the coronavirus? You’re not alone. Apparently the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is doing that too, reports Politico.

The FDA is reportedly turning to Twitter to help identify critical weaknesses in the supply chain of coronavirus tests. The issue is, of course, if certain supplies needed for creating testing kits aren’t available, those kits can’t be manufactured and distributed to where they need to be.

It’s reasonable to assume that laws would require medical device manufacturers to report any critical shortages in medical device supply chains, but it turns out that’s not the case. While drugmakers must report supply chain shortages, the FDA cannot mandate medical device manufacturers do the same thanks to a decade’s old law, notes Politico.

That’s why the FDA has turned to Twitter in recent days urging medical device manufacturers to make their medical device inventory and production schedule public. As the FDA’s deputy commissioner for medical and scientific affairs, Anand Shah, tweeted, “[The FDA] suggests companies make public their inventory, production schedule and a hotline number to address questions regarding availability of reagents and other supplies needed for #COVID19 testing. If you have an allocation plan to maximize efficient testing, please post.”

A follow-up tweet by Shah said the FDA was specifically looking for information on swabs, transport media, extraction reagents, controls, PCR reagents, test kits, and instruments.” Politico points out that Democratic and GOP senators have introduced legislation that would mandate device manufacturers to report medical device shortages, but such legislation has been stalled due to the coronavirus crisis.

Until that legislation gets back on track, the FDA is going to have to rely on Twitter like everyone else.

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