Republicans raise U.S. drug supply concerns after coronavirus outbreak


NEW YORK (Reuters) – Republicans raised concerns this week about the security of the U.S. drug supply chain in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak in China, where a significant portion of the ingredients used to make prescription drugs is manufactured.

The outbreak highlights “severe, longstanding, and unresolved vulnerabilities in our capacity to produce life-saving pharmaceutical drugs and medical devices for our own citizens,” Missouri Senator Josh Hawley wrote in a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “This is unacceptable.”

Around 88 percent of the active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) used in drugs for the U.S. market were manufactured overseas in 2018, according to the FDA here About 14 percent of the API for U.S. drugs in that year was produced in China, the FDA said.

Axios reported here on Sunday that around 150 prescription drugs are at risk of shortage if the outbreak worsens, citing a list of at risk drugs compiled by the FDA that includes antibiotics generics, and some branded drugs.

A spokesperson for the FDA could not be immediately reached for comment.

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, is working on medical supply chain issues related to coronavirus and said yesterday on Fox News Channel’s “Sunday Morning Futures” that too much is produced overseas.

“We have offshored far too much of our supply chain … for the essential medicines we need,” Navarro said. “A lot of it’s in China. Some of it’s in India. Some of it’s in Europe. But we’ve got to get that back onshore,” he said.

Reporting by Michael Erman; Additional reporting by David Lawder in Washington; Editing by Steve Orlofsky