Trump to Sign Executive Order to Boost U.S. Production of Essential Medicine -- Update
By Rachael Levy
WASHINGTON -- President Trump is expected to sign an executive
order on Thursday to help increase production of essential
medicines, medical equipment and protective gear in the U.S., his
trade adviser Peter Navarro said.
"If we've learned anything from the China virus pandemic...we
are dangerously overdependent on foreign nations," Mr. Navarro said
on a conference call with reporters on Thursday morning, referring
to the coronavirus pandemic.
The order includes a "buy American" requirement for government
agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services,
Department of Veterans Affairs and the Defense Department, Mr.
Navarro said. Mr. Navarro said the requirement would help establish
demand for investment in the manufacturing process.
The order would be the latest in a series of moves by the Trump
administration aimed at boosting domestic production of medicines
and medical equipment to ease the country's reliance on foreign
supply chains dominated by China.
Mr. Navarro declined to estimate a percentage amount of
production the administration is seeking to bring to the U.S. "But
at a minimum, we need to have enough production to deal with
pandemics or CBRN threats," he said, referring to chemical,
biological, radiological and nuclear risks. "We are a long ways
from that, but we can move in Trump time, which is to say as
quickly as possible."
Mr. Navarro said the order will require deregulation, including
a provision for the Environmental Protection Agency administrator
to streamline processes for the development of advanced
He said the EPA and the Food and Drug Administration "can make a
very significant difference in terms of reducing the time to
production and therefore the cost of production."
Mr. Navarro said the plan would keep drug prices down by
creating economies of scale and reducing waste, including through
continuous manufacturing techniques.
The plan comes as a proposal to lend $765 million to Eastman
Kodak Co. has drawn scrutiny. The loan, announced last week, would
help the onetime photo giant produce drug ingredients from the
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week that the
Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating the
circumstances around Kodak's announcement, and lawmakers are
seeking records about the plan.
Mr. Navarro declined to answer a reporter's question about Kodak
on the conference call, saying he would prefer to stay on the topic
of the executive order.
China is the world's biggest supplier of the raw materials --
known as active pharmaceutical ingredients -- that form the basis
of medicines. That dependence on China makes shortages more likely
should Chinese manufacturing be shaken, according to a 2019 U.S.
government report. China's dominance is growing: The U.S. imported
$3.9 billion of pharmaceutical raw material from China in 2017, an
increase of nearly one-quarter from the prior year, according to
Mr. Trump has also put pressure on manufacturers to help bolster
health-equipment supplies and ease a reliance on China for
emergency medical equipment.
General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and others in the auto
industry stepped up efforts in late March to use their factories
and manufacturing expertise to help build supplies of medical gear,
including ventilators, respirators and face masks.
GM and Ford, in particular, have carved out space in auto plants
to set up assembly lines and are using existing workers and
suppliers to aid in production, which aims to feed not only
national stockpiles but also hospitals and medical facilities.
GM, working with medical device maker Ventec Life Systems, in
April pledged to make 30,000 ventilators for the national stockpile
under a $489.4 million contract with the Department of Health and
Human Services. Ford is also working with General Electric to
produce 50,000 ventilators for the U.S. government under the
Defense Production Act.
Mr. Trump criticized GM early on in the pandemic for not moving
fast enough to convert factories for wide-scale ventilator
production. GM said at the time its efforts were already well under
Write to Rachael Levy at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
August 06, 2020 12:14 ET (16:14 GMT)
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