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Sunday, October 24th, 2021

Senators concerned about overreliance on foreign-made pharmaceuticals

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A bipartisan group of U.S. senators recently sent a letter to Mark Esper, the secretary of defense, expressing concern over the national security risks posed by U.S. reliance on foreign-manufactured pharmaceutical products.

The letter is in response to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s 2019 annual report that highlighted the growth of foreign products in drug manufacturing.

China is the global leader for pharmaceutical products, especially active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) that are used to make vaccines and generic drugs. Only 20 percent of the APIs used in domestic pharmaceutical production are manufactured in the United States.

The senators pointed out that the Food and Drug Administration does not consistently conduct tests to verify the contents or quality of APIs or drugs that enter the United States and that the Department of Defense provides service members and their families with drugs that can contain ingredients from China.

“…overreliance on Chinese API exports raises the possibility that China could terminate or raise the cost of prescription drugs that millions of Americans, including service members, rely on every day in the event of escalating geopolitical tensions,” the letter said.

The letter was signed by Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Mitt Romney (R-UT), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).