Trump signs executive order to boost US drug manufacturing

Trump said the order would support advanced manufacturing processes that would benefit US pharmaceutical companies. — Reuters pic
Trump said the order would support advanced manufacturing processes that would benefit US pharmaceutical companies. — Reuters pic

WASHINGTON, Aug 7 ― President Donald Trump yesterday signed an executive order aimed at boosting US production of medicines and medical equipment, lowering drug prices and protecting the United States against shortfalls in a future pandemic.

Trump said the order would also support advanced manufacturing processes that would benefit US pharmaceutical companies.

The long-awaited measure includes a “Buy America” provision mandating federal purchases of certain medical supplies and equipment deemed essential and moves to remove regulatory hurdles to approval of new US drugs, the Republican president told workers at a Whirlpool washing machine factory in Clyde, Ohio.

The order had been expected for months as part of a drive by the Trump administration to pull back supply chains from China.

“As we've seen in this pandemic, the United States must produce essential equipment, supplies and pharmaceuticals for ourselves. We cannot rely on China and other nations across the globe, that could one day deny us products in a time of need,” Trump said. “We have to be smart.”

In wide-ranging remarks, Trump took aim at China's trade policies and blasted presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama for failing to recognize the threat posed by China to US manufacturing.

“During the course of the next four years, we will bring our pharmaceutical and medical supply chains home,” he said. “And we'll end reliance on China just like we did with the washers and dryers ... we'll be making our product here.”

US companies were skeptical about the order as it evolved, warning that it could trigger potential backlash from China and other suppliers at a time when more than 1,000 people a day are dying of Covid-19 in the United States.

Senior White House adviser Peter Navarro said it was critical to act now to prevent future crises and ensure sufficient demand so US companies could affordably manufacture pharmaceuticals at home, ending their reliance on key ingredients and supplies from China.

Navarro said the order would also crack down on internet sales of counterfeit medicines, many of which he said came from China.

The Buy America provisions would require the Department of Health and Human Services, the US military and the Veterans Administration to procure only US-made goods to meet certain essential needs, Navarro said.

The order also directs the US Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency to give priority status to US drug ingredient manufacturers during their regulatory review process. ― Reuters

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