Lawmakers propose federal database to track supply chain vulnerabilities

One month after introducing legislation that would have several government agencies investigate weaknesses in the pharmaceutical supply chain in the U.S., Sen. Gary Peters, D-Michigan, has formulated another bipartisan bill which would create a federal database to map supply chain vulnerabilities.

Peters, the chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, has teamed with James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, and Mike Braun, R-Indiana, to forward the Mapping America’s Pharmaceutical Supply Act.

It would require the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to catalog the origin of each drug, quantities available and the location of facilities used to manufacture them. It also would map inspections, recalls and import alerts.

With this information, the HHS could assess supply chain threats and decide how to address them through investments in domestic manufacturing.

“As we saw firsthand during the COVID-19 pandemic, federal agencies did not have enough visibility into our reliance on foreign manufacturers and other chokepoints in the supply chain, limiting their ability to anticipate and respond to drug shortages and related challenges,” Peters said in a release.

Two reports released by Peters over the last four years have identified national security concerns from the nation’s overdependence on foreign sources for critical drug products. They’ve also cited the county’s lack of clarity on the supply chain—from the key ingredients needed to make drugs to the distribution of those products.

Last month, Peters and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, introduced the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Risk Assessment Act, which would bring the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, the White House Office of Pandemic Preparedness and Response Policy and the HHS together to develop a plan to investigate weaknesses in the U.S. supply chain and reduce dependence on foreign countries.

The FDA lists more than 200 drugs in short supply on its online drug shortage database. On the American Society of Health System Pharmacists list, there are more than 900 shortages of drugs and doses, with the numbers growing over the past decade and shortages also lasting longer than before, according to a report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine cited in a March 2023 letter from lawmakers to the FDA.