How to Navigate Federal Agencies During the Shutdown

January 9, 2019

FDA, CDC, and DEA are still supporting pharmacists during the federal shutdown

The shutdown of the federal Government is now entering its fourth week and President Donald Trump has said that it may last months. What does this mean for pharmacy? What parts of the government are open or partially working and what are shut?

According to the APhA, the DEA is “open and operational” during the government shutdown. This includes the controlled substance ordering system (CSOS) and offices that deal with registration and diversion. However, “APhA advises pharmacists to use online communications,” the organization said in a statement.

The FDA has issued a statement on what operations it will carry out during the shutdown. “[A]gency operations continue to the extent permitted by law, such as activities necessary to address imminent threats to the safety of human life and activities funded by carryover user fee funds,” FDA states on its website. These activities include maintaining core functions to handle and respond to emergencies such as monitoring for, and responding to, outbreaks of foodborne illness and flu; supporting high-risk food and medical product recalls when products endanger consumers and patients; pursuing civil and criminal investigations when public health is imminently at risk, screening imported food and medical products, and addressing other critical public health issues. Surveillance for significant safety concerns with medical devices and other medical products will also continue.

However, routine inspections and many research activities have been stopped, according to the New York Times, and the agency has stopped accepting approval applications for new drugs. Many FDA staff are on furlough without pay until the shutdown ends.

The CDC’s public health surveillance, including keeping an eye on flu activity, is still running because money was appropriated before the shutdown started. Thousands of employees are on furlough, however.

The Indian Health Service, which is part of Health and Humans Services but is funded from the Department of the Interior, has been shut down for the duration. The only services that are continuing are those for immediate needs, with staff that will not be paid until the shutdown ends.