Today a coalition of nine major consumer and physician groups representing millions of Americans asked Members of the House of Representatives to get behind a bill that would give the FDA broader powers and better resources to ensure the safety of the imported drug supply.

The Drug Safety Enhancement Act, HR 1483, was introduced by members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee last month and based on a similar draft circulated last year. The drug safety reforms it proposes have won wide consensus across party lines among the public, who have opened their browser windows (or newspapers) lately to near-weekly drug recalls and huge, systemic quality failures that have put the safety of drugs in every medicine cabinet on the line.

The Drug Safety Enhancement Act would give the FDA recall authority to pull drugs it believes to be risky from market, and the power to stop importation of drugs from plants that fail safety inspections or deny access to FDA inspectors. It would also up inspection resources for FDA to better align foreign and domestic oversight, and update the GMP standards industry is required to maintain to sell drugs in the U.S.

In seeking Congressional co-sponsors, Community Catalyst joined AFSCME, the Alliance for Retired Americans, Consumers Union, Families USA, Medicare Rights Center, National Physicians Alliance, Our Bodies, Ourselves, and U.S. PIRG.

The co-signers cite a 2010 poll of 820 likely U.S. voters that shows the public consensus on this issue, and the need to address it now: 81% of Republicans, 87% of Independents, and 97% of Democrats support increased FDA authority to issue recalls, destroy contaminated products upon import, and inspect foreign manufacturing facilities.

“It is essential that we protect families from contaminated and substandard prescription and over-the-counter medications,” the groups write. “We hope Congress will act this year to close the gaps in our current system for regulating the drug supply chain, gaps which make all consumers vulnerable.”

Read more on the bill here, a summary of HR 1483 here (pdf) and the letter here (also pdf).

–Kate Petersen, PostScript blogger