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SD Department of Health to add prescription stockpiles amid drug shortage

A shortage of generic prescription medications has been an issue in the United States before the start of the pandemic.

The sourcing of raw material production for medications spurred Gov. Kristi Noem to ask the state Health Department to find answers.

Noem is sending three letters to congressional representatives urging them to act on the nation-wide drug shortage. The governor presented the letters Wednesday at a Lewis Drug store in Sioux Falls.

The letters call for transparency in the pharmaceutical manufacturing chain and for risk assessments to be completed on foreign sourced pharmaceutical ingredients.

Melissa Magstadt is the South Dakota Secretary of Health. She said sources of pharmaceutical ingredients need to be diversified.

“What is new, and progressively worsening, is our reliance on single sources for the diversity of the drug supply chain. The U.S. no longer has the capabilities to manufacture our medications," said Magstadt. "Especially our generic medications. In addition, the U.S. now competes with the entire globe for the same sources. China is the raw material holder and India is the finished product manufacturer for the majority of generic medications for the entire globe.”

The South Dakota Department of Health recommended an increase in prescription stockpiles throughout the state.

Magstadt said the priority of medications in the cache are lifesaving drugs such as Albuterol, Epinephrine, Insulin, Prednisone, and Pediatric Amoxicillin.

Noem said the national medication shortage is the FDA’s responsibility, though there are things the state is doing in the meantime.

“Today, I am announcing that we will have a stockpile in five more communities including Aberdeen, Mobridge, Hot Springs, Pierre and Yankton. We’ve never as a state had a cache of medications stored in those communities, we will start doing that today. We will also be diversifying the type of medications that will be available to the public should a shortage occur, and it become necessary to tap into this stockpile,” said Noem.

Currently, the Department of Health has two caches located at Lewis Drug distribution center in Sioux Falls and at Monument Health in Rapid City.

Evan Walton is an SDPB reporter based in Sioux Falls. Evan holds a Master’s in English Literature from Southern New Hampshire University and was honorably discharged from the United States Army in 2015, where he served for five years as an infantryman.