Reps. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.) and Darren Soto (D-Fla.) advocated Tuesday for bipartisan support for bills that would increase domestic pharmaceutical production amid shortages of essential medicines.
“We are working in a bipartisan manner to address this,” Carter said. “Whether you’re a Republican, a Democrat or an Independent, if you need that drug, you need that drug, and it needs to be available to you.”
Soto said the main reason for the drug shortages was the fact that the US relied heavily on other countries for key drugs, particularly China and India.
“Right now, 72% of our pharmaceuticals are imported, 13% from China and, of course, they are an economic rival to us,” Soto told The Hill contributing editor Steve Scully at the “Reimagining Medicine” event. pharmaceutical supply chain.
Carter said the problems with relying on foreign production of key medicines have become all too apparent during the pandemic.
“India held back 26 drugs, 26 essential drugs during the pandemic that we could have used, but they were stockpiling those drugs to make sure they had them for their country,” Carter told Scully.
“Now, no one can really blame them for that, but at the same time that puts us in a situation where we don’t have access to those drugs,” Carter said.
Both Carter and Soto agreed that the US must be better prepared for an emergency situation like the COVID-19 pandemic in the future.
“We don’t want to be caught unawares again, like we saw in 2020 when the pandemic hit our shores,” Soto said.
“We can’t get caught with our pants down, so to speak, and not have antibiotics available for when the next big virus comes along,” Carter said.
Carter also spoke about the key legislation he had introduced to combat drug shortages nationwide.
One such law was the State Stockpile Preparation Act, which would temporarily authorize the Department of Health and Human Services to provide matching grants to states to expand or maintain stockpiles of commercially available medical equipment and supplies during a public health emergency.
The other piece of legislation Carter discussed was the Strategic Stockpile of Essential Drugs Act, which would create a pilot program with private entities to test the effectiveness of building a stockpile of generic drugs at risk of shortages.
Carter said the latest bill would “help and encourage manufacturers to use the private sector to hold these stocks, particularly generic drugs.”
“So if we have a problem like the one we’re experiencing right now with amoxicillin, we can address that problem,” he added.
Carter said the biggest obstacle to getting pharmaceutical companies established in the US was negative profit incentives.
“These are companies, you know, that practice capitalism, so we have to be more competitive,” he said.
To address this problem, Soto said a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced the Made in America Act, which he and Carter cosponsored.
“I would provide tax incentives of 25 to 30 percent to further boost domestic manufacturing so that we don’t ship drugs from the Pacific or from the Atlantic, so that we source more raw materials here,” Soto said.
Additionally, the tax credits proposed in the bill would only go to pharmaceutical companies that establish themselves in areas designated as economic opportunity zones.
Soto said that he hopes that the measure can be taken up in the next Congress.