Dr. Hahn to Senator Collins: “[W]e completely agree with you that this has to be an evidence-based approach getting the medical therapeutics…to the people in need.”
Senator Collins also sought clarification from the CDC Director about reopening dental practices
Washington, D.C.—This morning, U.S. Senator Susan Collins criticized the opaque decision making process at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that has been used to allocate Remdesivir, a drug that has shown promise in treating severe cases of COVID-19.
Senator Collins, a member of the Senate Health Committee, made those comments at a hearing focused on what federal, state and local governments are doing to help Americans go back to work and back to school as rapidly and safely as possible. Today’s hearing featured testimony from officials at HHS—including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Last week, Maine’s two largest hospital systems contacted Senator Collins with questions about how this therapeutic will be allocated. Although HHS released a statement on Saturday with additional guidance, Senator Collins told FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn that the distribution model remains “very unclear” and noted that a timetable has yet to be provided.
Senator Collins said, “Beyond those who are being treated with this drug at Maine Medical Center through a clinical trial, I’m concerned that hospitalized patients in Maine will have little or no ability to be treated with this promising therapeutic for the foreseeable future.”
Senator Collins asked Dr. Hahn, “[H]ow can these allocation and distribution issues be resolved so that patient care is not delayed and so that it doesn’t depend on which state you live in, whether or not you’re going to get access to these treatments and ultimately a vaccine?”
“[W]e completely agree with you that this has to be an evidence-based approach getting the medical therapeutics, vaccines, Remdesivir—whichever it happens to be—to the people in need,” Dr. Hahn responded. “I think valuable lessons can be learned and will be learned with respect to other therapies and to vaccines in particular, and we must incorporate those into our operational plans moving forward.”
Senator Collins also relayed to CDC Director Robert Redfield the concerns she had been hearing from dentists across Maine who have been unable to reopen their practices despite following strict infection control protocols.
“Dentists tell me that teeth with cavities that could have been filled are now going to need root canals. Teeth that could have been treated with root canals are now going to require extractions. People with oral cancers cannot get the treatment, the cleanings, that they need before beginning their treatment,” said Senator Collins.
“[M]y question to you is this,” Senator Collins told Dr. Redfield. “If dentists are following the American Dental Association guidelines; if they’re instituting strict protective measures for their patients, their staffs, their hygienists, and themselves; and if they’re closely examining and seeing a decline in the number of COVID-19 infections in their county, are these reasonable factors for states to consider in reopening the practice of dentistry?”
Dr. Redfield agreed with Senator Collins that it is important to follow the American Dental Association’s guidelines and said that the CDC is working on providing specific guidance for dental practices.