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Rubio, Warren Introduce Bill to Address U.S. Overreliance on Foreign Pharmaceuticals

Nov 4, 2021 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) introduced the Strengthening Supply Chains for Servicemembers and Security Act to address the national security risk posed by the United States’ reliance on foreign entities for pharmaceuticals. The legislation follows a September 2021 report from the Department of Defense (DoD) Office of Inspector General (OIG) that confirmed the DoD is over-reliant on foreign made pharmaceuticals without sufficient strategies to address domestic supply chain dysfunction. The Senators successfully secured language in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 to require an industrial capacity vulnerability study of the DoD’s dependence on foreign-made pharmaceuticals.
“The report from the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General only confirms what was made glaringly obvious during the COVID-19 pandemic: the United States remains dangerously reliant on foreign nations for its pharmaceuticals,” Rubio said. “It is unacceptable that we do not currently have a plan in place to address these supply chain issues. I’m proud to introduce this legislation to ensure that the DoD is able to reduce its reliance on nations like China for its critical pharmaceutical needs.” 
“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the vulnerability of our nation’s supply chains, including of pharmaceutical products,” Warren said. “This poses a risk not only to public health but to our national security. I’m glad to lead this bill with Senator Rubio to ensure DoD takes steps to reduce its reliance on pharmaceuticals manufactured abroad and to strengthen its supply chains,” said Senator Warren.
The Strengthening Supply Chains for Servicemembers and Security Act would codify the six recommendations included in the DoD OIG report to address supply chain weaknesses: 
Recommendation that the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment:  

  • Develop and issue implementing guidance for DoD supply chain risk management for DoD material, which includes pharmaceuticals. 
  • Pursue Federal legislation requiring pharmaceutical manufacturers to include APIs and final drug product country of origin information of the pharmaceuticals’ lot on the pharmaceuticals’ packaging. Specifically, the legislation would require a further review of information gaps to address reliance concerns.

Recommendation that the Director of the Defense Health Agency:  

  • Develop and publish implementing guidance for supply chain risk management specifically for pharmaceuticals. 
  • Create a chartered work group to assess risks to the pharmaceutical supply chain, identify the pharmaceuticals most critical to beneficiary care at DoD MTFs, and establish policy for allocating scarce pharmaceutical resources in case of a supply disruption. 

Recommendation that the Director of the Defense Logistics Agency modify DLA Instructions 5025.03 and 3110.01 to:  

  • Require DLA Troop Support to coordinate annually with Military Service customers to conduct responsiveness testing of the DLA’s contingency contracts for pharmaceuticals. 
  • Include the contract responsiveness testing results, as reported by the Military Service customers, in the Warstopper Program annual reports.