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Thursday, September 28th, 2023

Essential Medicines Strategic Stockpile Act seeks bipartisan solution to drug shortages, foreign supply chain reliance

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United States Reps. Earl Carter (R-GA) and Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) took a second go at introducing the Essential Medicines Strategic Stockpile Act (H.R.405) this week, seeking to create a pre-plotted list of generic medications essential for public health emergencies and cut dependence on China or pharmaceuticals.

“COVID-19 made it abundantly clear that the United States cannot rely on China for the safety and security of our drug supply chain,” Carter said. “When a parent goes to the store and sees an empty shelf where amoxicillin should be, the emergency stockpile of essential medicines is no longer an idea; it’s a life-saving measure. This step will strengthen our nation’s health, security, and emergency response readiness.”

The medical industry was particularly hard hit during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, which squeezed supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), medicines, and more as the world went increasingly into lockdown. The same bill was introduced in the 117th Congress, with its list aspect inspired in part by the oil reserve maintained by the United States for energy-related emergencies. In this case, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would maintain the medicinal list.

“As we saw throughout the pandemic, one of our greatest public health challenges is ensuring that patients have reliable access to essential generic medicines,” Rochester said. “I’m proud to join Congressman Carter in introducing critical legislation that will ensure Americans have sustained access to life-saving, critical medications during national emergencies.”