Big Pharma and free market orgs unite against Trump’s ‘Buy American’ order

26 March 2020

1:50 PM

26 March 2020

1:50 PM

The Association for Accessible Medicines (AAM), a trade association for major pharmaceutical manufacturers such as 3M, is drafting a letter to send to President Trump opposing his proposed ‘Buy American’ executive order reshoring medical supply chains. The letter currently has over 40 signatories, including PhRMA, a Big Pharma lobbying organization, dozens of medical nonprofits, and free market-oriented organizations, indicating the president will face immense pressure across the political spectrum for trying to reduce US medical dependence on China.

AAM claims that signing the ‘Buy American’ executive order during the coronavirus crisis will harm efforts to provide doctors and hospitals with the equipment and medicines they need to stop the spread of COVID-19. The executive order would push deregulatory measures for pharmaceutical companies that manufacture their products in the United States and would encourage government agencies to purchase only American-made medical supplies.

The Spectator obtained a copy of the email containing the draft letter AAM sent to potential signatories on Tuesday.

‘As you may be aware, President Trump’s trade adviser has been advocating that the president sign an Executive Order that would mandate or encourage that the US government only purchase drugs whose active pharmaceutical ingredients are made in the US with a similar rule for medical devices,’ an AAM official wrote in the email. ‘Such a move right now — which could come as early as this week —would destabilize the pharmaceutical supply chain at the worst possible moment for patients and the providers caring for them.’

The letter, drafted on Tuesday, warns Trump against signing the ‘Buy American’ order, claiming that it could ‘undermine the complex arrangements between firms that allow for efficient delivery of medicines to patients.’

It continues:

‘Proposals to drive all manufacturing to the United States not only overestimate the potential feasibility and underestimate the time and effort it would take to make such changes, but also misunderstand that a diverse pharmaceutical supply chain is precisely what enables the industry to respond quickly and make adjustments in its supply chain sourcing during natural emergencies and global public health crises.’

AAM Draft Letter

AAM Draft Letter to President Donald Trump (Screenshot: March 25, 2020)

When reached for comment, AAM provided the Spectator with the following updated list of signatories:

  • 60 Plus Association
  • Advocacy & Awareness for Immune Disorders Association
  • Allergy & Asthma Network
  • American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association
  • American Behcet’s Disease Association
  • American Consumer Institute
  • ASPIRE: Alliance to Solve PANS & Immune-Related Encephalopathies
  • Association for Accessible Medicines
  • Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
  • Autoimmune Encephalitis Alliance, Inc.
  • Beyond Celiac
  • Black Women’s Health Imperative
  • Center for Freedom and Prosperity
  • Consumer Healthcare Products Association
  • Council for Citizens Against Government Waste
  • Cutaneous Lymphoma Foundation
  • Dysautonomia International
  • FreedomWorks
  • Frontiers of Freedom
  • GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer
  • Global Healthy Living Foundation
  • Healthcare Distribution Alliance
  • Innovative Defense Foundation
  • International Foundation for Autoimmune & Autoinflammatory Arthritis
  • International Pemphigus Pemphigoid Foundation
  • Lupus and Allied Diseases Association, Inc.
  • Lupus Foundation of America
  • Marti Nelson Cancer Foundation
  • Mental Health America
  • Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America
  • National Alopecia Areata Foundation
  • National Consumers League
  • National Eczema Association
  • National Health Council
  • National Psoriasis Foundation
  • National Taxpayers Union
  • Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease
  • PhRMA
  • Sjögren’s Foundation
  • Spina Bifida Association
  • Taxpayers Protection Alliance
  • USP
  • Vitiligo Support International

PhRMA, the drug industry’s main lobbying group and one of the signatories, has been dumping tens of millions of dollars to advance opposition to Trump’s war on exorbitant drug prices, insisting that Big Pharma is not to blame. CNBC reported last week that PhRMA was implementing an aggressive lobbying push to oppose the ‘Buy American’ executive order.

Trump’s trade adviser, Peter Navarro shot down claims that the order would disrupt the supply chain during the coronavirus outbreak, explaining that it contains specific language providing exemptions on using global medical supply chains during national emergencies.

‘The global Big Pharma lobby which has moved all of our production offshore is now lying about an executive order they haven’t read and which explicitly exempts Buy American provisions during the current China virus crisis and any period of national emergency,’ Navarro told CNBC. ‘Nothing in the order will prevent us from getting what we need, when we need it, and from wherever we need it.’

Navarro also called lobbying efforts against the order a ‘desperate attempt’ by pharmaceutical companies to keep production offshore.

AAM’s letter is also signed by a number of right-leaning free market organizations, including the National Taxpayers Union, Frontiers of Freedom, the Center for Freedom and Prosperity Foundation, and FreedomWorks. Jason Pye, the vice president of legislative affairs for FreedomWorks, wrote an opinion article for the Washington Examiner on Wednesday featuring numerous talking points from AAM and PhRMA explaining opposition to Trump’s executive order. 

AAM’s interim CEO Jeffrey K. Francer suggested openness to other methods of reducing medical dependence on any one country in a statement Tuesday:

‘To this point in the pandemic, Americans have not experienced COVID-19-related drug shortages, and we are working every day with our partners in government and our member companies to ensure that remains the case for the duration of this pandemic. In the longer term, however, COVID-19 has raised important questions about how prescription drugs are produced and delivered to American patients through the global supply chain. AAM and its member companies are committed to working with policymakers and other stakeholders to formulate policies that will ensure America’s patients have access to safe, effective and affordable generic and biosimilar drugs, while addressing concerns the COVID-19 crisis has raised.’

The Trump administration is considering a number of measures beyond the executive order designed to harm China for its initial coverup of the coronavirus outbreak as well as its role in supply shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE). The Chinese government reportedly required manufacturing plants to reserve crucial N95 masks for Chinese customers, hanging out to dry global trade partners who rely on China for the vast majority of their PPE and other pharmaceutical products. China later claimed there were ‘no restrictions on the export of masks’ and shipped medical supplies to Italy in an attempt to rehabilitate its image.

The White House did not return a request for comment. 

See the full story of Big Pharma and free market orgs unite against Trump’s ‘Buy American’ order on Spectator USA.

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