Reps. Ryan, Posey Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Protect Americans from Contaminated Pharmaceuticals
Washington, DC — Representatives Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Bill Posey (R-FL) today introduced their bipartisan legislation, the Safe Medicine Act, to end our reliance on foreign powers for important lifesaving pharmaceuticals and generics. This bill is designed to protect the tens of millions of American patients who rely on these drugs from being subject to contaminated pharmaceuticals from countries like China who do not have our best interests in mind – a problem that has only escalated in the last two decades.
This effort is the most recent in a series of initiatives lead by Representatives Posey and Ryan to end our over-dependence on China for critical goods and products. Earlier this year, they introduced their bipartisan Critical Supply Chain Commission Act, which establishes a nonpartisan commission to help Congress mitigate supply chain vulnerabilities presented by foreign dependencies.
“The Coronavirus serves as a timely reminder of our growing dependence on China and other foreign countries for our pharmaceuticals. Today, eighty percent of U.S. pharmaceutical ingredients come from overseas. This poses a grave national security threat to Americans. It is extremely dangerous for our nation to be dependent on other countries for lifesaving medications. That is why I am proud to work with my Republican colleague to ensure the United States is taking steps to understand the full scope of the problem and working to implement a plan to regain independence and ensure our supply chains remain secure. Our national security is not a partisan issue,” said Ryan.
“The coronavirus pandemic exposed serious vulnerabilities in our critical supply chain, especially when it comes to lifesaving medications,” said Posey. “This dependence on foreign suppliers gives countries like China dangerous leverage over the United States allowing them to take full advantage of supply disruptions with few controls in place to safeguard against contaminated drugs, putting American patients in danger. It is time we take a hard look at our dependence on foreign suppliers of these important pharmaceuticals, and I would like to thank my colleague, Rep. Tim Ryan, for his support of this important legislation.”
Eighty percent of the drugs that Americans depend on come from overseas. China, whose pharmaceuticals have been subject to numerous recalls, is the largest manufacturer. As a result, the U.S. has not produced basic medicine like penicillin since 2004.
In 2008, a Chinese-based pharmaceutical company pumped counterfeit blood-clot medication into our domestic markets to turn a quick buck resulting in the death of 81 Americans while 785 more were severely injured.
Since then, the problem has only gotten worse. In 2018, it was discovered that millions of Americans had been taking blood pressure medication tainted with a cancer-causing ingredient from China. According to the FDA, carcinogens may have been used in these foreign generics for as many as four years before being discovered.
The Safe Medicine Act helps prevent this situation by:
- Directs the Secretaries of Health and Human Services, Defense, and Veterans Affairs to end American over-dependence on Chinese pharmaceuticals by developing a procurement strategy and implementation plan to increase manufacturing in the United States of essential medicines, medical countermeasures, and critical inputs.
- The FDA will be able to ban contaminated drugs if they determine systemic problems and if it doesn’t contain a warning label of the potential contamination.
- The Secretary of Health and Human Services will have waiver authority.
The President cannot waive the Safe Medicine Act in any trade deal.