Marsha Blackburn Files Bipartisan Bill to Increase U.S. Prescription Drug Manufacturing


U.S. Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and U.S. Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey on Wednesday introduced the Securing America’s Medicine Cabinet Act, which they said will increase American manufacturing of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients.

The two senators, in a press release, said these APIs are “the building blocks of prescription drugs.”

Currently, only 28 percent of API-producing facilities are in the United States. The number of Chinese facilities has more than doubled since 2010, the two senators said in their press release.

“When confronted with a serious challenge such as the coronavirus, it is important to take stock, look at lessons learned and build upon them in order to respond better the next time,” Blackburn said.

“Currently, we are too reliant on foreign manufacturing of critical APIs. The SAM-C Act is one step on the right path to strengthen our drug supply chain.”

Menendez, meanwhile, said this proposal will encourage “drug manufacturers to partner with our best minds in higher education on new advancements, creating good jobs and increasing the national production of vaccines and drugs that can save lives.”

“The coronavirus outbreak has heightened concerns about dependence upon China and India for prescription medications. On February 27, 2020, the FDA announced the shortage of one drug used to treat patients with coronavirus. They attributed the shortage to difficulties obtaining the API from a site in China affected by coronavirus,” according to the press release.

“Additionally, in its 2019 report to Congress, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission revealed ‘serious deficiencies in health and safety standards in China’s pharmaceutical sector.’ Dependence upon China and others for prescription drugs combined with safety concerns needs to be addressed. This urgent health event provides an impetus to improve our pharmaceutical supply chain.”

According to the language of the bill, the SAM-C Act will encourage pharmaceutical drug manufacturers to bring drug manufacturing back to the United States, where the two senators said ingredients and processes are more easily verified.

“The legislation would expand upon the Emerging Technology Program within the Food and Drug Administration to prioritize issues related to national security and critical drug shortages, as well as bring pharmaceutical manufacturing jobs to the United States,” according to Blackburn’s press release.

“In addition, the SAM-C Act authorizes $100 million to develop centers of excellence in advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing in order to develop these innovations as well as train the workforce needed in this industry. These centers will be partnerships between institutes of learning and the private sector.”

As The Tennessee Star reported Wednesday, Blackburn said the United States should rely less on China for pharmaceutical drugs, especially because of the coronavirus.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]







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