Healthcare costs and access are perpetually hot topics in America. Annually, prescription drugs cost over $370 billion within the US, some of which can be attributed to imported ingredients and foreign manufacturing. For this reason and others, it is critical to prioritize domestic manufacturing and supply. In recent news, the Manufacturing API, Drugs, and Excipients (MADE) in America Act was reintroduced by 12 Republican and 2 Democrat representatives, including Buddy Carter (R-GA) and Carol Miller (R-WV).
Bringing Attention Back to the MADE In America Act
The bill makes an effort to mitigate drug shortages and bolster American manufacturing of pharmaceuticals and personal protective equipment (PPE). Presently, it has been referred to the Committee on Finance for review.
During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, America had a harsh lesson in medical equipment availability. With Americans having to crank out fabric masks on their sewing machines and brew homemade hand sanitizer, it’s clear our country was not ready for a pandemic.
A lesson to learn here is that in order to be prepared for another global health crisis, we need to be able to support the needs of our citizens from within our own borders. Beyond considering a mass pandemic, the everyday medical needs of Americans is a consistent and ever present concern.
Overseas Manufacturing of Drug Ingredients
The acronym API stands for active pharmaceutical ingredients and refers to the drug components of a medication that are formed into applications like pills or vaccines. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 72% of API manufacturers are overseas, 13% of that being in China…and that number has been rising. This is mostly due to cheaper labor and energy costs, yet, it’s Americans that end up paying a high price.
Production costs may be lower overseas, but relying on foreign manufacturing has severe risks. Significant recalls of imported drugs, like in 2018 and 2015, both from Chinese manufacturers, yield a serious danger to patients.
American wages and productivity cannot compete with foreign alternatives. So where does the answer lie? America cannot risk relying on offshore entities to protect its own citizens. According to the FDA, the solution could be found in advancing manufacturing technology within the US. By facilitating the development of such technologies, the MADE in America Act can aid in preventing drug shortages, improve product quality, and increase consumer supply. In this way, the financial benefit of cheap labor overseas would be negated.
MADE In America, Stays In America
The MADE in America Act will incentivize the domestic production of drug and PPE products by way of tax credits up to 25-30% of qualified expenditures. With the support of a National Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Initiative signed as an Executive Order by President Biden in 2022, biological technologies, like medicines and manufacturing processes, created in the US will remain here. This stabilizes our supply chains, increases jobs, and improves national security.
Furthermore, by increasing manufacturing within the United States, the Food and Drug Administration can better monitor drug facilities and processes. This increases transparency of inspections, regulations, and approvals of drug products and companies. Turns out what’s better for the economy, is better for business, is better for the people.