Critical drug shortages in the U.S. are on the rise due to a deal that gave China dominance over the global supply chain, posing a national security threat, Sen. Josh Hawley told Fox News.
Drug shortages in the U.S. increased 30% in 2022 compared to the year prior, according to a Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs report released last month. Some antibiotics, anesthetics, cancer treatments, emergency room supplies and kids’ medicines are among the drugs facing shortages.
‘We are dependent on China overwhelmingly for our critical medical supply chains,’ Hawley, who sits on the committee, said. ‘You talk about being dependent, you talk about a national security threat, that’s a national security threat.’
‘That is a direct threat to our independence and to the health of our people,’ he said.
CHINA CONTROLLING THE GLOBAL DRUG SUPPLY CHAIN THREATENS U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY: HAWLEY
In some cases, 90% of the key ingredients originate in China or India, according to the Senate report. It also found that active drug shortages peaked in the U.S. at the end of 2022.
‘We are dependent on China overwhelmingly for our critical medical supply chains,’ Hawley said. ‘You look at the precursors, the key precursors for making pharmaceutical drugs, prescriptions that Americans rely on, 60% of those are made in China or India.’
‘We should make these drugs, including the precursors in the United States of America,’ the Missouri Republican told Fox News. ‘We can start by withdrawing China’s most favored nation status, the sweetheart trade deal that we gave them 20 years ago.’
The U.S. Senate granted China most favored nation status ahead of Beijing joining the World Trade Organization. In practice, the U.S. is obligated to provide China with preferential treatment for trade deals and tariffs.
Hawley recently proposed a bill that would rescind China’s most favored nation trade status. The legislation would also ‘subject imports from China to higher tariff rates,’ according to his office.
‘During COVID, China threatened to withhold a key precursor drug, a key precursor element for cancer treatments,’ Sen. Hawley told Fox News. ‘If they had gone through and done that, it would have cut our supply in half at all of our [Department of Veterans Affairs] hospitals across the country overnight.’
Additionally, the number of FDA-approved pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturers based in China more than doubled between 2010 – 2015, according to the Senate report.
Bringing domestic drug manufacturing back to the states is also gaining bipartisan momentum in the House of Representatives.
Two Republicans and two Democrats last month launched the Domestic Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Caucus, which is intended ‘to reduce American reliance on foreign adversaries, head off potential supply chain disruptions, and ensure a steady supply of pharmaceuticals in the event of public health emergencies or natural disasters,’ according to a press release.
‘Currently, only about 10% of our critical prescription drugs or their precursors are made in America, 90% made somewhere else,’ Hawley told Fox News. ‘Listen, not only is that bad for patients, it’s bad for workers.’
Bringing high-paying pharmaceutical jobs back to the U.S. would help the economy while simultaneously cutting reliance on Chinese manufacturing, the senator said. But building domestic drug manufacturing facilities could take years, which, in the case of any future world conflicts, could pose a threat.
‘If we don’t do anything now, ahead of the curve, we will be at their mercy,’ he told Fox News. ‘We need to bring good-paying jobs back to this country, making these critical supplies that we literally rely on to live.’
To watch the full interview with Hawley, click here.