Trump orders US to buy certain drugs only from US factories

Maia Anderson - Print  | 

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Aug. 6 directing the government to buy certain drugs only from American factories. 

He signed the "Buy American" order at the Whirlpool Corp. in Ohio. In remarks made at the manufacturing plant, Trump said he promises to "turn America into the premier medical manufacturer, pharmacy, and drugstore of the world."

The order could be a big shakeup of the drug industry, as no one knows exactly how reliant the American drug supply chain is on other countries. Some experts have said that up to 90 percent of generic drugs are made at least partially abroad, according to STAT

The order doesn't specify which drugs it covers so it's unclear how broadly it will be implemented. It directs the FDA to decide which drugs will be required to be bought from American factories. 

It covers medical supplies as well as drugs, STAT reported. 

The order comes about two weeks after the president signed four drug-pricing executive orders aimed at lowering drug prices. 

Both Democrats and Republicans have introduced bills in recent weeks aimed at bringing more of the drug supply chain to the U.S., weaning it from dependence on foreign sources, according to STAT

"If we learned anything from the [coronavirus] pandemic, it is simply that we are dangerously overdependent on foreign nations for our essential medicines, for medical supplies — like masks, gloves, goggles and the like — and medical equipment, like ventilators," White House trade adviser Peter Navarro told reporters Aug. 6. 

Mr. Navarro first pitched the idea of requiring that certain drugs be bought from U.S. factories in March, and since then many drugmakers, business groups, economists and conservative organizations have spoken out in opposition to it, STAT reported. They argue that the order would raise domestic drug prices. 

A group of more than 250 economists wrote a letter to the White House earlier this year saying if the order is implemented, "Taxpayers and patients will pay more for drugs and medical supplies."

The executive order includes some benefits for the pharmaceutical industry, STAT reported, including that it directs HHS to streamline review of FDA applications for drugs developed in the U.S. and is expected to include provisions directing the Environmental Protection Agency to relax some environmental restrictions that make it harder to manufacture drugs in the U.S. 

It also includes a provision meant to incentivize the use of continuous manufacturing, Mr. Navarro told reporters.

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