Feb 27, 2020 - Health

China's coronavirus outbreak prompts congressional scrutiny of health supply chain

 A management personnel checks the production of medicines

Management personnel checks the production of medicine in a workshop of Youcare Pharmaceutical Group Co. in Beijing. Photo: Zhang Yuwei/Xinhua via Getty Images

The spotlight that the coronavirus has shone on our reliance on China for American drugs and medical devices has already prompted lawmakers to act.

Driving the news: Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) both plan to introduce bills aimed at safeguarding the supply chain.

Details: Rubio's bill would require drugmakers to report to the Food and Drug Administration the volume of their drug's ingredients derived from each source, which would give the FDA a clearer picture of how reliant drugs are on Chinese products.

  • The bill also would create federal financing guarantees to American businesses producing critical medical supplies, pharmaceuticals and equipment in the U.S.
  • And it would temporarily increase the tax deduction for business capital expenditures on medical equipment and facilities related to the coronavirus.

Hawley's legislation would require medical device manufacturers to report predicted shortages to the FDA, and would give the FDA additional authorities in the event of an expected shortage.

  • It also would give the FDA more authority to request information from drug and device makers about their manufacturing capacity.

The bottom line: Old fears about our medical supplies' dependence on China have been given new urgency.

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