Buchanan Proposal Included in House-Passed Bill
WASHINGTON – Amid a worsening supply chain crisis, Congressman Vern Buchanan today praised U.S. House passage of legislation to help reduce our reliance on foreign nations for life-saving drugs. The House-passed bill closely mirrors a key provision in Buchanan’s Securing America’s Medicine Cabinet Act (H.R. 70), which aims to rebuild drug manufacturing in the United States.
“From the early days of the COVID pandemic, it became clear how dangerously reliant we are on China and the global supply chain for pharmaceutical products,” said Buchanan. “I strongly support efforts to make our country more independent when it comes to producing critical drug components, and I’m pleased to see the House take action to ensure that we are never again forced to rely on other countries for life-saving medicines.”
On Tuesday, the House passed H.R. 4369 with broad bipartisan support, which allows the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to partner with universities across the country and to designate them as “National Centers of Excellence in Continuous Pharmaceutical Manufacturing” to help boost our domestic drug manufacturing.
A key component of Buchanan’s bill authorizes $100 million to create “National Centers of Excellence for Advanced Pharmaceutical Manufacturing” with the goal of developing and manufacturing more active pharmaceutical ingredients within the U.S.
These new centers will utilize public-private partnerships between higher education institutions and private sector entities to discover innovative new pharmaceutical processes and develop new workforce training efforts.
According to Eric Edwards, MD, the cofounder and CEO of a public benefit pharmaceutical corporation, “revamping the supply chain and stockpiling of essential medicines could have substantial economic and health benefits that go beyond rare crises like the pandemic. It would save the hundreds of millions of dollars that U.S. hospitals pay each year to cope with shortages, including those occurring in children’s hospitals.”
Buchanan initially introduced the Securing America’s Medicine Cabinet Act in May of 2020 following threats by China to cut off key medications to Americans and then reintroduced his bill on the first day of the new Congress earlier this year. China's state-run media agency in March 2020 said Beijing could impose pharmaceutical export controls which would plunge America into "the mighty sea of coronavirus."
Since the 1990s, U.S. companies have increasingly imported the active pharmaceutical ingredients needed to produce prescription drugs from countries around the world, where they are cheaper and subject to fewer regulations. To date, more than 50 countries around the world have imposed some sort of export ban on essential medicines amid the global pandemic.
Eighty percent of the raw ingredients used to manufacture many life-saving medications and antibiotics are produced overseas, primarily in China and India. 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 said, “Every day we are learning more about China’s malicious intentions, from lying about the origins of the coronavirus to threatening to cut off drug supplies to American citizens during a global pandemic. It is unconscionable that other nations would use COVID-19 to hold countries hostage for these vital medications.”
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.