President Donald Trump will sign an executive order requiring the U.S. government to buy “essential” drugs from American companies, White House trade advisor Peter Navarro announced Thursday.
President Donald Trump travels Thursday to the swing state of Ohio tosign an executive order requiring the federal government to purchase certaindrugs from U.S. manufacturers rather than from overseas companies.
Trump’s trip to Ohio is the latest in a series of recent visits he has made to states that are expected to be pivotal in November’s election and comes as he is again facing criticism over his response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 157,000 Americans. Democrats initially wrote off the Buckeye State this year, but polls show presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden with a slight edge.
Trump carried Ohio in the 2016 election by percentage 8 points.
The order, which Trump will sign at Whirlpool Corp.’s manufacturing plant in Clyde in the northern part of the state, instructs the government to develop a list of “essential” medicines and then buy them and other medical supplies from U.S. manufacturers instead of from companies around the world.
The president is expected to sign the order during his trip to Ohio later Thursday, Navarro told reporters on a conference call. “If we’ve learned anything from the China virus pandemic, it is that we are dangerously over-dependent on foreign nations for our essential medicines, for medical supplies like masks gloves, goggles and medical equipment like ventilators.”
What Is In The Executive Order?
The order will require the U.S. government to develop a list of essential medicines and buy them as well as medical supplies from U.S. companies instead of from foreign countries like China, Navarro said. The World Health Organization already has a list of essential medicines, but the U.S. won’t need some of those drugs because of “where we are located,” he said.
The order will also remove some of the regulations U.S. pharmaceutical manufacturers face and fast-track the review process to make certain drug ingredients, he said. “For example, in terms of inspections the FDA makes, the FDA can walk in any pharmaceutical manufacturer in the U.S. unannounced and inspect. If they try to do that in China or India, these governments would tell them to come back and maybe we’ll let you in.”
Another component will “combat” the importation of counterfeit medicines on e-commerce platforms, he said.
The order comes as the U.S. continues to fight the coronavirus, which has infected nearly 5 million Americans and killed at least 158,268, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
It also aims to speed up the permitting process for domestic manufacturers of pharmaceutical ingredients and essential medicines by directing the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency to give them priority during the regulatory review process.
Navarro said the order would remove some of the regulatory barriers that put U.S. manufacturers of drugs and medical supplies at a competitive disadvantage
Early in the outbreak, the FDA warned consumers of disruptions to the medical supply chain, including shortages of prescription drugs and critical medical products in the United States. The U.S. has faced a shortage of some medicines as some of the pharmaceutical ingredients were made predominantly by China.
Last month, Trump announced a $765 million deal with Kodak to make ingredients needed to make generic drugs in response to the pandemic.
This order is just the latest executive order from Trump on drugs. Late last month, he signed four executive orders designed to bring U.S. drug prices at least on par with their costs overseas.
Last week, Trump announced a deal with the Eastman Kodak Co. to manufacture pharmaceuticals. The administration plans to give the camera company a $765 million loan to launch a pharmaceuticals division.
The loan from the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation is the first of its kind under the Defense Production Act, a Korean War-era law that allows the government to direct private industry to produce weapons, vehicles and other materiel for war and emergencies.
The order that Trump will sign in Ohio directs the Department of Health and Human Services to use the Defense Production Act to procure essential medicines and other equipment from the United States, but it does not stipulate precisely which drugs would fall under the requirements.
The World Health Organization maintains a list of essential medicines that includes more than 400 drugs. But because of its location, the U.S. won’t need to declare some of them essential, such as anti-malaria drugs, Navarro said.