WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today, on a call with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen Hahn, discussed the FDA’s efforts to increase coronavirus test kit materials and medical equipment to fight the pandemic in Illinois. Durbin pushed Dr. Hahn to do everything within FDA’s power to increase access to safe and effective personal protective equipment, testing kit supplies, ventilators, treatments, and other medical resources health workers need now.
“I’m glad the FDA is doing everything it can to speed up testing capabilities for states like Illinois, but the need for more test kit supplies, ventilators, and personal protective equipment is urgent. Providing direct, immediate assistance for hospitals and health workers facing equipment shortfalls must be priority number one,” Durbin said.
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In order to increase testing capabilities, FDA has let hospitals develop their own test kits with only their state’s permission, rather than obtaining FDA approval. Illinois—a state of 13 million people—has tested a total of 8,374 people for coronavirus, not nearly enough to understand the scope of the virus’ spread in communities. Further, the state is experiencing shortages of personal protective equipment for health care providers, as well as medical devices needed to treat patients hospitalized with coronavirus. Many lupus and rheumatoid arthritis patients also face challenges accessing chloroquine, which the President has indicated may help treat coronavirus.