The U.S. must keep the supply chain for drugs and other commodities “stable and secure in the long term to keep preserving a little bit of breathing room for American families,” President Biden said Monday.
Fortunately, the administration is making progress, the president noted in a press conference held in the Indian Treaty Room at the Executive Office Building in the White House complex. Some of the supply chain initiatives the administration announced Monday include:
Use of the Defense Production Act to mitigate drug shortages. “I’m proud to announce that I’ll be invoking what’s known as the Defense Production Act to boost production of essential medicines in America by American workers,” Biden said. “You notice that people have to get certain kinds of shots overseas” because they’re not available in the U.S. “Well, that supply chain is going to start here in America.”
President Biden also will issue a Presidential Determination giving HHS the authority to invest in domestic manufacturing of essential medicines and medical countermeasures. “HHS has identified $35 million for investments in domestic production of key starting materials for sterile injectable medicines,” according to a White House fact sheet.
“HHS will also designate a new Supply Chain Resilience and Shortage Coordinator for efforts to strengthen the resilience of medical product and critical food supply chains, and to address related shortages,” the fact sheet continued. “HHS intends to institutionalize this coordination to advance the department’s supply chain resilience and shortage mitigation goals over the long term.” In addition, the Defense Department will also release a report on pharmaceutical supply chain resilience that is aimed at cutting reliance on high-risk foreign suppliers.
Creation of the Council on Supply Chain Resilience. At the press conference, Biden welcomed the members of this new council, which will be co-chaired by the National Security Advisor and National Economic Advisor, and will include cabinet secretaries as well as the Attorney General, the administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Small Business Administration, and other government officials. “I’m charging this group to ensure that our supply chains remain secure, diversified, and resilient in the future,” said Biden, who also convened the council’s inaugural meeting on Monday. “I’m also directing my cabinet to create an early warning system that uses data to spot supply chain risks to our economic security, our national security, our energy security, and our climate security.”
The administration is also promoting data-sharing between various government agencies; for example, the Commerce Department is launching a Supply Chain Center, which will use data analytics to develop supply chain risk assessment tools. “Additionally, Commerce is partnering with HHS to assess industry and import data that can help address foreign dependency vulnerabilities and points of failure for critical drugs,” according to the fact sheet.
Biden also used the occasion to take a dig at some congressional Republicans’ healthcare proposals. “Their plan would offshore jobs, raise costs for seniors by repealing the insulin price reduction and the caps on out-of-pocket drug spending, and [repeal] the ability to negotiate lower drug prices that I secured with the Inflation Reduction Act,” he said. “Their plan would also cut Medicare while providing more tax giveaways to the wealthy and the biggest corporations.”
He also invoked former President Trump, adding, “My predecessor once again called for cuts that could rip away health insurance for tens of millions of Americans in Medicaid. They just don’t give up. But guess what? We won’t let these things happen.”