Buchanan Doubles Down on Pandemic Planning
WASHINGTON – On the heels of introducing legislation to increase domestic production of life-saving drugs, Congressman Vern Buchanan today announced he has co-sponsored another bill amending the Defense Production Act to ensure the availability of critical medical supplies such as protective equipment and testing kits.
The new bill co-sponsored by Buchanan would expand the President’s authority under the Defense Production Act to reduce America's dependence on foreign nations for medical equipment and supplies that diagnose, cure, mitigate, treat, or prevent disease.
"We should never again be caught unprepared in the face of a pandemic," Buchanan said. "If we have learned anything over the past three months it's that we need to strengthen our medical supply chain and be less reliant on other countries."
The coronavirus pandemic has led to global shortages in medical supplies including personal protective equipment and pharmaceuticals. Some countries blocked exports of medical supplies to save them for their own citizens. In fact, according to a recent report from the Department of Homeland Security, "the Chinese government intentionally concealed the severity of COVID-19 from the international community in early January while it stockpiled medical supplies by both increasing imports and decreasing exports."
Earlier this month, Buchanan introduced the Securing America’s Medicine Cabinet Act which rebuilds drug manufacturing in the United States following threats by China to cut off life-saving medications to Americans. "We need to stop acting as if China is our friend or a benign nation," Buchanan said. “They cannot be trusted.”
“As we confront the coronavirus, it has become clear how dangerously reliant we are on other countries for vital medical and protective equipment,” Buchanan said. “That’s why we must act swiftly to ensure that America is never again forced to rely on other countries for life-saving medical supplies.”
The bill amending the Defense Production Act, known as the SAVE Act (Securing America's Vaccines for Emergencies) was introduced by Rep. French Hill, R-AR, and also requires the President to create a long-term strategy on securing medical article supply chains. The Defense Production Act provides the president with a broad set of authorities to ensure that domestic industry can meet national defense requirements. The SAVE Act expands this authority to medical supplies including pharmaceuticals.
Buchanan noted that the United States receives the vast majority of its medical supplies from China, where the coronavirus originated from. Eighty percent of the raw ingredients used to manufacture many life-saving medications and antibiotics are produced oversees, primarily in China. According to estimates, Chinese pharmaceutical companies supply between 80 percent and 90 percent of U.S. antibiotics, 70 percent of acetaminophen and about 40 percent of heparin (blood clot medication).
Buchanan was one of the first in Congress to call for the president to declare a public health emergency and to call for restricting flights into the country from China, the origin of the disease. In 2017, Buchanan proposed that Congress should create a pandemic response fund to combat deadly infectious diseases.