A new investigation lead by Michigan Senator Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Township) finds the U.S. heavily relies on foreign countries to produce prescription and over-the-counter drugs like Motrin and antibiotics.
The report found 90% of the critical minerals used to make most drugs come from two countries: India and China.
Peters acknowledges that solutions to this issue will be a long-term process, and there are few immediate fixes. One of the recommendations in the report is that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration needs to get a better sense of the long supply chains these drugs move through to arrive in the country.
Peters says that will help the government fill gaps by anticipating shortages through predicative modeling. Peters says his long-term solution is ultimately getting more manufacturers to set up shop on American soil.
"[We need to] work on incentives and work on ways that we can incentivize the production of these drugs in the United States with American companies and American workers," Peters said.
Peters says the overreliance on foreign countries to produce medications not only hurts America’s seeking healthcare and caused a shortage of drugs, but poses a national security risk. The U.S. Department of Defense has created a system to produce antibiotics within the U.S. in case of conflict, an example Peters held up as a good model for future drug manufacturing projects.
"But you've got to bring these facilities back, and that means building manufacturing facilities here. Part of it is incentivizing that," said Peters. "Oftentimes, you'll find other countries that we compete with do provide those kinds of incentives because they know it is in their national security interest."
Peters said the shortage of drugs and dependence on foreign manufacturers dates back several years before COVID-19, and the pandemic merely exposed the vulnerabilities in the U.S. drug manufacturing system.