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Saturday, May 21st, 2022

Bipartisan, bicameral legislation seeks strengthened domestic pharmaceutical supply chains

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With the introduction of the House version of the Strengthening Supply Chains for Servicemembers and Security Act (H.R. 6374), U.S. Reps. Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) and Peter Meier (R-MI) this week sought to bolster cut overreliance on foreign pharmaceuticals and strengthen the domestic supply chain.

“Our service members sacrifice so much for our country, and they deserve reliable access to pharmaceuticals like antibiotics and high blood pressure medicine,” Houlahan said. “But that access is being threatened by our supply chain vulnerabilities and overreliance on foreign manufacturers.”

The legislation is a partner to Senate legislation introduced by U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in November 2021. Both bills would require six steps, split between various defense agencies.

First, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment and Director of the Defense Health Agency would each have to develop and issue implementing guidance for risk management of the Department of Defense supply chain for DoD material, such as pharmaceuticals. The former would also have to seek federal legislation requiring pharmaceutical manufacturers to include APIs and final drug product country of origin information on pharmaceutical packaging, as well as further review of other information gaps.

Separately, the Director of the DHA would need to create a chartered workgroup to determine risks to the pharmaceutical supply chain and identify pharmaceuticals deemed critical to beneficiary care at DoD military treatment facilities. Policy would need to be established to allocate resources rendered scarce in case of future supply disruptions.

Lastly, the Director of the Defense Logistics Agency would need to modify their agency’s instructions to require troop support to coordinate annually with Military Service customers and conduct responsiveness testing of the agency’s contingency contracts for pharmaceuticals. Going forward, annual Warstopper Program reports would also need to include contract responsiveness testing results.

“Our country’s significant supply chain vulnerabilities have been exposed during the COVID-19 crisis, and they continue to be problematic,” Meijer said. “The Department of Defense Inspector General provided clear recommendations to combat the weaknesses specifically in our pharmaceutical supply chain, and our bill will put these policies into action. We cannot continue our foreign dependence on critical, lifesaving drugs, and I am proud to help lead the effort to reduce this dependency.”

All demands in the bill were based on recommendations from a DoD Office of the Inspector General report issued in September 2021.