President Donald Trump has signed an executive order mandating that certain “essential” drugs and medical supplies purchased by the government be manufactured from within the US.
The White House “buy American” plan comes following the initial difficulties the nation faced to obtain medical supplies and equipment when the coronavirus pandemic began.
The new plan aims to close gaps in the medical supply chain and reduce reliance on foreign supply chains.
“It is critical that we reduce our dependence on foreign manufacturers for Essential Medicines,” the White House said in a statement.
According to the administration, the measure will “ensure sufficient and reliable long-term domestic production of these products”, “minimise potential shortages” and allow the country to respond to "outbreaks of emerging infectious diseases and chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats."
The Food and Drug Administration will be required to develop a list of the essential medicines that will be covered under the order.
“We cannot rely on China and other nations across the globe that could one day deny us products in a time of need,” Mr Trump said while announcing the order during his speech at a Whirlpool factory in Ohio on Thursday. “We just can’t do it.”
“Over the course of the next four years, we will bring our pharmaceutical and medical supply chains home and we will end reliance on China and other foreign nations,” he added.
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro echoed the same sentiments as the president on a call with reporters on Thursday, according to reports.
He reportedly said the order would at very least apply to drugs and supplies needed to combat emergencies such as pandemics, bioterrorist attacks, and other national security threats.
“We are dangerously dependent,” said Mr Navarro according to The Washington Post. “The United States must protect its citizens, critical infrastructure, military forces, and economy against outbreaks of emerging infectious diseases.”
The order “establishes a base level of demand to attract a level of investment sufficient to provide for the needs we have for these things we need in times of trouble,” Mr Navarro added.
It will allow for exemptions based on cost, availability and “public interest” and would rule out if domestic production would increase procurement costs more than 25 per cent.
Cowen Washington Research Group’s Rick Weissenstein told Politico that the order will focus on building future capacity for domestic drug production and “is not likely to seek to move much if any existing manufacturing” back to the US.