"Many of the distribution businesses we have identified in our investigations," Rockefeller and Cummings wrote, "appear to serve little purpose other than facilitating transactions during which gray market entities apply large markups."
On Thursday, Rockefeller urged House and Senate members working on the compromise FDA legislation to "take steps to prevent these shady companies from profiting off other people's serious medical needs."
During a Senate Finance Committee hearing in December, Rockefeller said, "Drug shortages pose a serious and growing threat to public health, and in some cases have been life-threatening.
"It's estimated that 550,000 cancer patients have had to miss or delay their chemotherapy treatments in this year  alone, while some antibiotics, intravenous drugs and drugs commonly used for heart patients have been particularly hard for hospitals and pharmacists to find."
Last year, an American Hospital Association survey found almost all hospitals across the country experienced at least one serious drug shortage during the previous six months.
Between 30 percent and 40 percent of cancer patients at one major hospital in West Virginia were impacted by drug shortages last year.
"Another West Virginia hospital reported that they were forced to buy an expensive brand-name colon cancer drug instead of the generic colon cancer drug they otherwise would have used -- at more than 10 times the price per dose," Rockefeller said.
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.