Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) announced on Tuesday that he will introduce a bill that would diversify the U.S. medical supply chain in order to reduce reliance on Chinese products.
“If the Coronavirus crisis makes anything clear, it’s that we need to stop relying on China for our critical medical supply chains,” Hawley wrote on Twitter. “I will introduce legislation this week to jump start that effort.”
On Monday, Hawley sent a letter to Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn asking how the agency plans to deal with a potential medical supply shortage caused by the onset of the coronavirus in China.
“The recent outbreak of novel coronavirus has threatened the domestic supply of some 150 prescription drugs, including antibiotics, generics, and branded drugs. Some of these drugs do not have alternatives on the market,” Hawley wrote in the letter. “The degree to which some of our own manufacturers rely on China to produce life-saving and life-sustaining medications is inexcusable.”
Hawley’s legislation announcement came as the Center for Disease Control said that the Wuhan coronavirus would continue to spread in the U.S.
“It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen in this country anymore but a question of when this will happen,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said at a press conference. “We are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad.”
“This is an unprecedented, potentially severe health challenge globally,” U.S. health secretary Alex Azar told a Senate Committee on Tuesday. “We cannot hermetically seal off the United States to a virus…and we need to be realistic about that.”