U.S. President Donald Trump is planning to sign an order Thursday requiring the government to buy “essential” drugs from American companies rather than from overseas producers, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro announced.
“If we’ve learned anything from the China virus pandemic,” Navarro told reporters Thursday, “it is that we are dangerously over-dependent on foreign nations for our essential medicines, for medical supplies like masks, gloves, goggles and medical equipment like ventilators.”
He said Trump would sign the order on a visit to a manufacturing plant in Ohio, a key midwestern state in the president’s bid for a second term in the Nov. 3 national election against former Vice President Joe Biden.
Trump won Ohio by 8 percentage points in his 2016 upset victory but polls show a tight race with Biden.
Navarro said the order would require the U.S. government to develop a list of essential medicines and buy them from U.S. companies instead of from such foreign countries as China.
He said Americans “must have access to life-saving medications, particularly as we fight this battle against the invisible enemy from China." Early in the coronavirus outbreak, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned American consumers there could be disruptions to the medical supplies, including shortages of prescription drugs.
Navarro said the order "establishes buy American rules for our government agencies, strips away regulatory barriers to domestic pharmaceutical manufacturing," and it also could boost manufacturing technologies needed to keep drug prices low.
Trump last month announced a $765 million deal with Kodak to produce ingredients needed to manufacture generic drugs, which now are often bought from overseas companies.