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Top Senate Dem calls for investigation of ‘superbug’ outbreaks

Top Senate Dem calls for investigation of ‘superbug’ outbreaks
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The top Democrat on the Senate’s Health Committee is pressing the Food and Drug Administration to step up its investigation of a medical device linked to deadly "superbug" infections.

Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayBiden's pre-K plan is a bipartisan opportunity to serve the nation's children Schumer 'exploring' passing immigration unilaterally if talks unravel Senate Democrats push Biden over raising refugee cap MORE (D-Wash.) asked FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg on Tuesday to commit to a “full review” of certain medical scopes that health experts say have helped cause outbreaks of an antibiotic-resistant infection.

The infection has grabbed headlines nationally after outbreaks were reported in two Los Angeles hospitals so far in 2015, putting more than 200 people at risk. Nearly every state has reported at least one infection in the last several years.

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Hamburg, who said she is also alarmed by the infection, said the FDA plans an advisory committee meeting to address the problem. The agency issued a warning about the devices last month.

“We are actively engaged in trying to come up with better strategies,” Hamburg told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee during a panel on medical innovation.

Hamburg added that the scopes are “very important medical devices that serve a critical role in patient care.”

The devices are used in about a half-million procedures each year.

Hamburg said the FDA first learned in late 2013 that some outbreaks of the infection involved antibiotic-resistant strains. Unlike previous outbreaks that were “always associated with some lapse in disinfection protocols,” Hamburg said officials couldn’t identify breaches in protocol in the new infection outbreaks.

Hamburg announced last month that she plans to step down at the end of March.