Last week the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced a grant worth up to $812 million for a public-private partnership to manufacture COVID-related medicines in the United States.
In the rush to reclaim some of the U.S. manufacturing of medicines that has moved across the globe over the past two decades, journalists and politicians have cited alarming statistics regarding the proportion currently made in China. One of the most frequent numbers is 80%, but as this analysis from Reason clarifies, that figure is based on a chain of misunderstandings and exaggerations.
The truth is, we simply don’t have all the facts right now. The CARES Act recently passed by Congress requires volume reporting if the API is imported or offered for import to the US., but the first data will only begin to be collected in September. Meanwhile, what follows is the most reliable, relevant information we do have. These facts inform AAM’s Blueprint for Enhancing the Security of the U.S. Pharmaceutical Supply Chain and should be the true starting point for policy makers as they consider the most effective and realistic path to enhancing pharmaceutical production in the United States.
||Current U.S. manufacturing: 149 generic prescription drug manufacturing sites in the U.S. produce over 70 billion doses per year, according to AAM member survey data. Additionally, our industry employs over 36,000 workers.|
Number of facilities:
While we should keep in mind that there may be no correlation between facilities and volume, if this is the metric under discussion, we should stick with the facts. According to the latest and most reliable FDA data, of the nearly 2,000 manufacturing facilities around the world that provide API to the United States, 230 are in China, 510 are in the United States and 1,048 are in the rest of the world. Furthermore, according to congressional testimony given by the FDA’s Janet Woodcock last October, nearly half of finished dose pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities for U.S. patients are located in the U.S.
Chinese imports, by value:
According to trade data from the U.S. Census Bureau, China ranks 10th by dollar value—well behind Ireland, Germany and Switzerland—on the list of countries that export pharmaceuticals to the U.S. And while they rank second in terms of API imports into the United States, they account for only 15% of the total dollar value of those imports.
As the nation fights the pandemic and simultaneously moves to onshore added manufacturing of prescription drugs, it is critical that policymakers and policy experts cite real data, backed up by facts.
By Jonathan Kimball, AAM Vice President, Trade and International Affairs