U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) introduced legislation to publicly manufacture personal protective equipment, prescription drugs, and other medical supplies necessary to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Pandemic Emergency Manufacturing Act of 2021 authorizes the federal government to manufacture medical products, including contracting with existing manufacturers, to ensure an adequate supply of critical materials to avoid rationing during this crisis.
“The Biden administration is stepping in where the Trump administration utterly failed to make sure our states and communities have enough PPE, COVID-19 tests, and now vaccines, but Congress should prepare to do more. Our bill enables the federal government to rapidly produce the equipment, supplies, vaccines, and prescription drugs Americans need when they need it most — in this and any future public health emergencies,” Warren said.
Specifically, the bill would establish an Emergency Office of Manufacturing for Public Health to ensure an adequate supply of drugs, devices, biological products, active pharmaceutical ingredients, and other supplies. The office would be required to oversee the efforts to manufacture COVID-19 products in short supply. The products would be provided at no cost to federal, state, local, and tribal health programs. The office would begin manufacturing or enter into contracts to manufacture PPE, diagnostic test materials, COVID-19 treatment drugs within one month of the Act’s passage. Further, the office would be instructed to begin constructing, or enter into contracts to construct, vaccine and therapeutic manufacturing facilities to ensure the immediate production, at-scale, of COVID-19 vaccines when such vaccines become available.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating for health care workers, long-term care residents, and families across the United States. The Trump administration had no plan to scale up the production of personal protective equipment, prescription drugs, and medical supplies we needed to survive this crisis,” Schakowsky, chair of the Energy and Commerce Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee, said. “We are thankful for President Biden’s leadership and believe that it is critical to look ahead to the future. Current COVID-19 treatments and drugs will be manufactured under a recent Executive Order, but the United States cannot continue to be unprepared as new vaccines and treatments are developed. This bill will help scale up supplies and increase our capacity for development and distribution for future COVID-19 drugs that are developed and proven to be effective in the fight against the virus.”
The bill has been endorsed by numerous groups, including Public Citizen, Social Security Works, Action Center on Race and the Economy, Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), Physicians for a National Health Care Program, Families USA, UNITE HERE!, National Women’s Health Network, Lower Drug Prices Now, Universities Allied for Essential Medicines, National Adult Day Services Association, Main Street Alliance Action Fund, Faith in Healthcare, Doctors for America, Free the Vaccine for COVID-19, Treatment Action Group, and the Labor Campaign for Single Payer Healthcare, among others.