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Amid COVID-19 Donald Trump signs 'buy American first' pharma executive order

News Agencies | Updated on: 7 August 2020, 11:58 IST

US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order directing some federal agencies to prioritise purchasing certain drugs and medical materials when made in the United States.

The scope of the order issued on Thursday (local time) remains unclear, reports CNN, because it will direct the Food and Drug Administration to produce a list of 'essential medicines, medical countermeasures and critical input' that will be covered by the new requirements.

China has been the dominating global player in the production of personal protective equipment (PPE).

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And in the United States, 90 per cent of all prescriptions are filled by generic drugs and, one in every three pills consumed is produced by an Indian generics manufacturer, according to a study by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and KPMG in April.

And ironically, India gets around 68 per cent of its raw materials -- known as active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) -- from China.

But Trump's order comes after an initial scramble within the United States to obtain medical supplies and equipment at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, much of which has been produced or sourced from abroad.

Earlier in the pandemic, Trump invoked the Defence Production Act to compel American companies to produce medical supplies and equipment.

Thursday's order marks what the US administration sees as a solution in the case in case there's another spike in demand for medical supplies. CNN said the move will undoubtedly mark a shift in the way the US sources its drugs and medical supplies moving forward.

"The executive order will require that US government agencies purchase all the essential medicines that we need from American sources," said Trump during a speech at a washing machine plant in Ohio.

"The executive order will also sweep away unnecessary regulatory barriers to domestic pharmaceutical production and support advanced manufacturing processes that will keep our drug prices low and allow American companies to compete on the world's stage."

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said the United States is "dangerously over-dependent on foreign nations for our essential medicines, for medical supplies ... and medical equipment like ventilators."

The order "establishes a base level of demand to attract a level of investment sufficient to provide for the needs we have for these things we need in times of trouble," said Navarro.


Also Read: WHO says global COVID-19 fatalities topped 700,000

First published: 7 August 2020, 11:58 IST