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Blunt-Backed Bill to Address Medical Supply Vulnerability Included in Comprehensive Coronavirus Package

March 20, 2020

WASHINGTON - Today, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) announced that legislation he helped introduce, the bipartisan Commissionon America’s Medical Security Act, was included as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), the phase 3 coronavirus response legislation that was introduced in the Senate yesterday. The Blunt-backed bill is aimed at safeguarding America’s medical supply chain and addressing shortages due to the United States’ dependence on foreign-made medical equipment.

“Protecting our nation’s medical supply chain is a priority for public health and national security,” said Blunt. “The situation we’re in now is a direct reminder that many of the medical supplies that we use and need in this kind of pandemic are not made in this country. This bipartisan bill will help ensure we have a supply chain in place that will allow us to respond to the coronavirus and prepare for future public health challenges.”

Yesterday, Blunt spoke on the Senate floor to highlight the Commission on America’s Medical Security Act and urge his colleagues to support it. The Blunt-backed bill was subsequently included in the phase 3 coronavirus response legislation that was introduced last night.

Approximately 40% of finished drugs and 80% of active pharmaceutical ingredients are manufactured overseas—primarily from China and India. The ongoing global coronavirus outbreak has highlighted broader public health and national security vulnerabilities stemming from our nation’s reliance upon foreign manufacturing and the shortcomings in our regulatory oversight of global supply chains. On February 27, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the first coronavirus-related drug shortage, and on March 10, the FDA halted its routine overseas inspections of drugs and devices.

In December, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission sounded the alarm on the “growing reliance” on drugs and precursors produced, in many cases exclusively, in China. In recent weeks, state health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have raised concerns about a looming shortage of coronavirus extraction kit reagents needed to conduct diagnostic testing.

Blunt is an original cosponsor of the legislation, which was led by U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) and Dick Durbin (Ill.).

The bipartisan Commission on America’s Medical Security Act would direct the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to:

  • Assess the dependence of and vulnerabilities to the United States, including the private commercial sector, states, and federal agencies, on critical medications, medical devices, and medical equipment that are sourced from or manufactured in foreign countries;
  • Provide recommendations and an action plan to improve the resiliency of the supply chain for critical drugs, devices, and equipment, including to increase domestic manufacturing capabilities, supplies and stockpiles, and improve information collection and contingency planning; and
  • Consult, in the development of its report, with federal agencies—including the Departments of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Defense, Commerce, State, Justice, and Veterans Affairs—as well as public health, medical, and commercial industry stakeholders. 

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