Amid 'reshoring' efforts, central Virginia looks to bolster drug supply strength

Efforts to "reshore" drug manufacturing and address supply shortages in the U.S. have trickled down to central Virginia, where public and private partners have pledged $2.5 million in seed money for an industry accelerator.

Activation Capital is launching the cluster accelerator focused on advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing and R&D in the central Virginia area that includes Petersburg, Virginia, and Richmond, Virginia.

The initiative is backed by public and private sector organizations involved in the region’s pharmaceutical R&D, manufacturing, employment and supply chain development.

“For far too long, the United States has been dangerously dependent on a poorly designed global supply chain for our nation’s most essential medicines,” Eric Edwards, a member of the accelerator board and co-founder and chief executive of Phlow, said in a statement. “The regional cluster will help further enhance domestic manufacturing.”

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The effort is in line with a national move to address drug manufacturing shortfalls in the U.S. in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The crisis highlighted the U.S. dependence on the manufacture of active pharmaceutical ingredients. It’s estimated more than 70% of the raw materials used in making APIs are produced outside the U.S., with most being made in China and India.

In part to address shortfalls in vaccine manufacturing, the White House said last month that it would spend $2.7 billion to address the problems in order to boost manufacturing of key supplies for COVID-19 shots as well as manufacturing materials like bioreactor bags, tubing, lipids, vials, needles and syringes.