Stakeholders raise concerns with proposed drastic changes to the pharmaceutical supply chain

Nicole Longo
Nicole Longo June 11, 2020

Stakeholders raise concerns with proposed drastic changes to the pharmaceutical supply chain.

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As we work to combat the current global pandemic, it is especially critical to maintain the stability of our global manufacturing supply chain. Unfortunately, recent policy proposals that would mandate drastic changes to pharmaceutical manufacturing supply chains underestimate the significant time, resources and other feasibility challenges and complexities involved. Proponents of these proposals also ignore the strength of a geographically diverse global supply chain.

An increasing number of voices have expressed opposition to proposals that would upend global pharmaceutical manufacturing supply chains. Here’s a look at what they have to say: 

  • “Now more than ever, U.S. industries require access to international supply chains to produce critically-needed medical products. The United States simply does not produce all of the raw materials or intermediate goods that are essential to drug development or production of the medical equipment needed to thwart this pandemic. Preventing federal agencies from sourcing medical equipment and pharmaceutical ingredients from abroad — or that are made with non-U.S. inputs — would only exacerbate the supply shortages racking the United States.” - The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and 92 other organizations in a letter to the administration

  • “These supply chains have been built over decades and include appropriate safeguards to ensure safety and efficacy of products. Keeping that supply chain strong is even more critical as we fight a global pandemic. … Proposals to drive all manufacturing to the United States not only overestimate the potential feasibility and underestimate the time and effort it would take to make such changes, but also misunderstand that a diverse pharmaceutical supply chain is precisely what enables the industry to respond quickly and make adjustments in its supply chain sourcing during natural emergencies and global public health crises.” - Nearly 70 groups representing patients, consumers, taxpayers, health care providers, payers and members of the pharmaceutical and medical device pipeline in a letter to President Trump

  • “Diversifying supply sources and increasing inventories will be costly, but a broad Buy America regime will be more costly. The variety, supply, and price of goods available to Americans will suffer under a broad Buy America regime. Taxpayers and patients will pay more for drugs and medical supplies. … A Buy America directive can also hamstring the ability of U.S. pharmaceutical and medical equipment manufacturers to meet our future needs if firms are denied access to essential foreign supplies. Moreover, we can expect our trading partners to adopt retaliatory ‘Don’t Buy American’ barriers targeting U.S. exports as this type of retaliation is already occurring between other countries.” - More than 250 leading economists in a letter to the administration and congressional leadership

  • “Many medical products are already manufactured in the Unites States, but if one component is made overseas and could no longer be used, that would cause a huge disruption to an entire production line. Furthermore, buying 100 percent American is not always possible. The U.S. has neither the raw materials nor the workforce to make a product entirely in the United States. … Implementing this policy would create severe problems far beyond disrupting supply chains. There would be retaliation from U.S. trading partners, further hurting the economy.” - Citizens Against Government Waste in a blog post

  • “Suddenly forcing the industry to upend existing production chains and only use U.S. manufacturers and inputs would prove disastrous. It would make it nearly impossible to deliver medicines and medical products at the pace required during this emergency. Crippling shortages and delays would ensue.” - Sally Pipes, President, CEO and Thomas W. Smith Fellow in Health Care Policy, Pacific Research Institute in Forbes

  • “Global medical supply chains are not a threat, but rather an opportunity. The simple truth is that no country can — or should want to — be completely self-reliant. American firms source from many suppliers, most of which are located in countries allied with us. Reorganizing these networks would be prohibitively costly, if not impossible, especially in the short run.” - Marc Busch, Karl F. Landegger Professor of International Business Diplomacy, Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in NY Daily News 

Mandates that threaten the stability of the pharmaceutical supply chain are not in the best interest of patients. As policymakers consider proposals that would implement changes to manufacturing supply chains, it’s important to recognize the significant concerns that are being raised.

Topics: Manufacturing