UPDATED 10:43 AM PT — Monday, March 16, 2020
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are teaming together in order to revitalize the U.S. drug manufacturing sector.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) recently introduced the Securing America’s Medicine Cabinet (SAMC) Act to ramp up U.S. production of active pharmaceutical ingredients, or API’s. The pair believes the U.S. relies too heavily on foreign manufacturing of critical API’s, particularly in China.
“But right now, we depend heavily on Chinese and foreign companies to manufacture active pharmaceutical ingredients,” said Sen. Blackburn. “When this happens, we lose control of out supply.”
Urgency for passage of such a law follows the FDA’s announcement of a shortage of drugs to treat the coronavirus. The agency blamed difficulties in getting API’s from a Chinese manufacturing site.
Blackburn and Menendez cited that just 28 percent of facilities are currently manufacturing the drug domestically, while China has more than doubled that number since 2010.
“We need something like the SAMC Act to enable us to have access to these drugs and these compounds that they are identifying we need,” Sen. Blackburn explained.
If passed, the SAMC Act would expand the FDA’s emergency technology program to tackle issues relating to national security and drug shortages. A $100 million grant would be provided to establish facilities to develop these pharmaceuticals and effectively train the industry’s workforce.
Blackburn and Menendez are optimistic their colleagues will adopt SAMC. The lawmakers noted that the Senate has been looking for a solution to the problem for years.