Mar 20, 2024 - Health

Military flags risks in drug supply chain

Illustration of an hourglass-shaped pill bottle with a small number of pills falling through

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The military found more than 1 in 4 essential medicines are at "very high risk" because of their reliance on Chinese ingredients or their unknown origins.

Why it matters: Senators who released a new Defense Department report said it underscored the need to shore up the military's pharmaceutical supply chain as U.S. drug shortages hit the highest level in nearly a decade.

What they found: The military has a "high dependence" on foreign manufacturing and trade agreements for drugs on the FDA's list of 200-plus essential medicines, according to the new review.

  • 5% of essential drugs were made with active pharmaceutical ingredients from Chinese manufacturers using Chinese ingredients, while 22% came from a country that couldn't be identified.
  • 25% of the drugs were sourced in the United States, and 3% are from Canada or Mexico and are considered "moderately secure."

Flashback: The Pentagon last summer tapped Valisure to assess the quality and safety of commonly used generics following concerns about drugs the military purchases for service members and families, per Bloomberg.

What's next: Senators asked the Defense Department for a full accounting of disruptions to the military's pharmaceutical supply chain and whether they resulted in shortages.

Go deeper: Biden looks to boost domestic drug manufacturing amid shortages

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