Where are U.S. drugs really made? A new Senate bill aims to find out

Marriott International CEO Arne Sorenson has been called to testify at a March 7 Senate hearing regarding data breaches in the private sector.
Capitol Hill lawmakers have introduced a wave of bills seeking to "onshore" drug manufacturing. (Pixabay)

The vast majority of drugs that make it to American shelves are produced abroad, sometimes in countries that lawmakers worry don't have the nation's best interests at heart. But where are exactly are those drugs produced and how reliant is the U.S. on foreign imports? A new bipartisan Senate bill aims to find out.

Sponsored by Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Marco Rubio, the bill would require the Federal Trade Commission and Department of the Treasury to review where drugs used in the U.S. are made and the role that foreign manufacturing plays in the global supply chain, the legislators said in a joint release. 

That review has added importance during COVID-19 as countries lock down to control the virus' spread and stockpile key meds in case of shortages or emergencies. Those factors combined have legislators worried that shipping drugs for U.S. patients might not be a top priority for other nations. 

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"The coronavirus pandemic has made it painfully clear that we must take decisive action to rebuild our nation's medical manufacturing sector," Rubio said. "This bipartisan bill would ensure policymakers have the necessary information to address our supply chain vulnerabilities, the consequences of foreign investment in U.S. pharmaceuticals, and reduce our over-reliance on China for pharmaceuticals."

The bill would require the FTC and Treasury to produce its report one year after it passes into law, according to the release. 

Rubio and Warren hooked up on another piece of legislation in March—the Strengthening America’s Supply Chain and National Security Act—that sought to reduce U.S. dependence on Chinese raw ingredients and active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). That bill is currently in committee assignment and has yet to face a vote. 

RELATED: U.S. seeks to 'onshore' drug production in response to COVID-19. Is pharma even interested?

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