Health Care

Rubio Urges Trump to Use Federal Loans to Reduce U.S. Reliance on Chinese Medical Supply Chain

Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., April 10, 2019 (Erin Scott/Reuters)

Senator Marco Rubio on Wednesday pressed President Trump and lawmakers to encourage increased American production amid the coronavirus epidemic, criticizing China’s hold on the medical-supplies market.

“The coronavirus outbreak has made clear we must combat America’s supply-chain vulnerabilities and dependence on China in critical sectors of our economy,” the Florida Republican said in a statement.

Rubio and another Republican Senator, Josh Hawley of Missouri, have both introduced separate bills aimed at increasing American production of pharmaceuticals and decreasing U.S. dependence on foreign supply chains.

Rubio’s bill would require drug makers to divulge the sources of the active ingredients in their drugs, which will allow the FDA to gauge better how much the U.S. relies on China for these products, and would tighten laws encouraging the Veterans Affairs Department to buy American pharmaceuticals. The bill will also grant federal financing guarantees to American medical-supply companies with production in the U.S., and would increase the tax deduction temporarily for businesses investing in medical equipment and facilities related to the coronavirus outbreak.

Hawley’s companion bill would allow the FDA greater leeway in requesting information about the sources of drugs and medical devices and would require medical device manufacturers to report an expected shortage to the FDA.

The Trump administration also plans to issue an executive order aimed at eliminating loopholes that allow the government to buy pharmaceuticals as well as other medical products like face masks and ventilators from China and other countries.

“The coronavirus shows the importance of bringing all of that manufacturing back to America, and we will have that started,” Trump said last week at the White House as he met with leaders of major pharmaceutical companies. “It’s already started, frankly. It started about a year ago.”

Rubio called the upcoming executive order “a very strong first step in incentivizing domestic production.”

Last month, the Food and Drug Administration said that the U.S. is already experiencing a shortage of at least one unnamed drug because of issues related to the coronavirus outbreak.

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