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Legislations introduced in Congress to reduce US' dependency on China-made pharmaceuticals

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

US lawmakers have introduced legislations in both chambers of the Congress to reduce country's dependency on China-made pharmaceuticals, arguing that the ongoing coronavirus crisis has exposed America's vulnerability in this regard.

The legislation among other things directs the Department of Defense to determine the extent of its dependency on foreign entities for drugs, active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) and pharmaceutical components.

Additionally, it said, the Pentagon would be required to determine whether this creates a national security issue and to make recommendations to eliminate the US dependency on foreign sources.

"The industrial capacity of a nation still matters, and we are learning a painful lesson as a result of the coronavirus pandemic," said Senator Marco Rubio, author of Strengthening America's Supply Chain and National Security Act.

"Once our nation has recovered from this unprecedented crisis, we must take steps to address the systemic vulnerability and supply chain risk that the coronavirus pandemic revealed," he said.

Robio said it is unfortunate that it took a global pandemic to make clear the ramifications of offshoring our industrial base to countries like China.

This legislation represents a serious, bipartisan effort to prioritise the rebuilding of our nation's productive capacity, he added.

In the House of Representatives, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik has introduced Protecting our Pharmaceutical Supply Chain from China Act, the legislation that would take precautions to track active pharmaceutical ingredients.

It would also prohibit purchases from China by the Department of Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Defense over a two-year phase, create transparency in the supply chain, and provide incentives for manufacturing pharmaceuticals and device manufacturing in the United States.

This legislation is being led by Senator Tom Cotton in the Senate and Congressman Mike Gallagher in the House of Representatives.

"The time has come for Congress to take serious action to move United States pharmaceutical production out of China," Stefanik said.

"We have become far too dependent on China, and it is time that we equip our domestic pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers to be able to efficiently produce these items here in the United States," she said.

Supporting the legislation in the Senate, Senator Elizabeth Warren said the coronavirus pandemic has made clear what has been known for years -- that dependence on drugs and drug components imported from China and other countries is a threat to the US national security and its health.

"The United States government should never accept the unnecessary and avoidable risk of allowing our medical supply chain to be disrupted. If American lives depend on these drugs, we should not depend on foreign adversaries to get them," Senator Kevin Cramer said.

"Our bill rightly reprioritises the Buy American Act and directs the relevant federal agencies to detail how much we rely on other countries for pharmaceutical ingredients," he said.

According to Senator Tim Kaine, this pandemic has further underscored the need to look at the healthcare through a national security lens.

"It's critically important that we gain more knowledge of and control over our medical supply chains to reduce our reliance on other nations and ensure adequate supply in times of crisis," he said.

The legislation requires drugmakers to provide the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with information to determine volume of APIs used in pharmaceuticals.

Currently, the FDA requires drugmakers to include the sources of the drug's API, but it doesn't require them to provide the volume of API deriving from each of its sources. As a result, the FDA cannot determine the extent of dependency or target potential risks for drug shortages.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, March 21 2020. 02:50 IST