Opinion

America Needs Safe and Effective Prescription Medication

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Posted: Sep 10, 2020 12:01 AM
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America Needs Safe and Effective Prescription Medication

Source: Official White House by Joyce N. Boghosian

It is no secret that our country is combatting one of the most devastating crises of our lifetime. Not only is our government working around the clock to secure safe, effective vaccines to ward off COVID-19, but the Administration is also doubling down on its efforts to ensure prosperous job opportunities for all Americans, in an otherwise bleak situation. There are a number of ways that our nation can fast-track its recovery and cement future. One of the crucial avenues the Administration has taken is by making on-shore manufacturing of key pharmaceutical ingredients a priority.

COVID-19 has made is abundantly clear how dangerously dependent our country is on China for its pharmaceutical and medical supply chains. Nearly a whopping 72 percent of pharmaceutical ingredients are manufactured overseas, and according to Commerce Department data, China produces 95 percent of U.S. imports of ibuprofen 70 percent of U.S. imports of acetaminophen.  As a doctor who regularly treats elderly patients, I find it particularly troubling when such large quantities of beneficial medication aren’t readily available, or worse, are used as bargaining chips during a global crisis. This dependence is jeopardizing both patients and our nation’s economy and must come to an end.

Thankfully, President Trump swiftly invoked the Defense Production Act (DPA) to help bring pharmaceutical and medical supply chains back home. President Trump reiterated his resolve to protect American jobs and medical supply chains during his formal acceptance of the Republican nomination at the Republican National Convention: “Over the next 4 years, we will make America into the manufacturing superpower of the world….bring home our medical supply chains….we are taking our business out of China, [and] are bringing it home.” It’s critical that Congress stays the course to support American patients and workers.

The DPA is the primary source of presidential authorities to expedite and expand the supply of materials and services for our country’s industrial base in times of need. After deliberations on how to best expedite the manufacturing of medical supplies, Senior Trade Advisor Peter Navarro decided that New York-based company Kodak was best suited to manufacture key starting materials and active pharmaceutical ingredients. To initiate production, as authorized by the DPA, Kodak is set to receive a $765 million loan from the Development Finance Corporation (DFC). But the DFC has currently paused their review of this loan, leaving American patients dependent on foreign supplies and jeopardizing our nation’s recovery.

To be clear, this loan is not “free money,” nor is it a government handout. Instead, it is an opportunity for our nation to take back its global dominance in the pharmaceutical field and bolster its economy during challenging times.

Throughout my years of optometry practice, I have strived to provide my patients with prescriptions and treatments that I trust. But this trust has faltered as reports of Chinese and Indian generic drug manufacturing plants skirting rules have come to light, and thankfully other doctors are also beginning to question these practices. This problem has a solution. By bringing drug manufacturing back home, proper FDA surveillance inspections will be able to be carried out more easily. However, we can’t do this without the government’s action; they’ve laid the groundwork for Kodak to initiate this historic shift in the pharmaceutical industry, now it’s time they seal the deal.

According to Navarro, Kodak stood out as the best American company for the job because it hit two of the three criteria for pharmaceutical production and presents a huge opportunity for achieving U.S. pharmaceutical independence. President Trump already successfully achieved global dominance in oil production, creating thousands of jobs and affordably keeping the lights on in millions of American households. Now is his next opportunity to keep winning for the American people.

Patients across the country are in need of safe, effective medications. Taxpayers across America are tired of relying on foreign companies. American workers across our great nation are eager for new job opportunities. On-shoring the production of key pharmaceutical ingredients is a win-win-win for America, and the DFC has the power to achieve it. It’s time that the historic loan to Kodak is approved, so America can get back to business.