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Reps Houlahan, Meijer Introduce Legislation to Strengthen National Security, Reduce Overreliance on Foreign Pharmaceuticals

The bill would strengthen defense pharmaceutical supply chains

  • Reps Houlahan and Meijer headshots

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Representatives Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) and Peter Meijer (R-MI) introduced H.R. 6374, the House companion to the Strengthening Supply Chains for Servicemembers and Security Act. This timely legislation is a bipartisan, bicameral response to the September Department of Defense Office of Inspector General (Dod OIG) report recommending several actions the U.S. government take to strengthen our defense pharmaceutical supply chains and reduce dependence on foreign producers. The Representatives join Senators Rubio and Warren who introduced this legislation in November.


“Our service members sacrifice so much for our country, and they deserve reliable access to pharmaceuticals like antibiotics and high blood pressure medicine,” said Houlahan. “But that access is being threatened by our supply chain vulnerabilities and overreliance on foreign manufacturers. I’m glad to join this bipartisan, bicameral effort to strengthen our national security and support our troops.”


“Our country’s significant supply chain vulnerabilities have been exposed during the COVID-19 crisis, and they continue to be problematic,” said Meijer. “The Department of Defense Inspector General provided clear recommendations to combat the weaknesses specifically in our pharmaceutical supply chain, and our bill will put these policies into action. We cannot continue our foreign dependence on critical, lifesaving drugs, and I am proud to help lead the effort to reduce this dependency.”


Existing policy ensures critical pharmaceuticals have ‘contingency contracts’ - backup sources - in the event of emergencies/supply chain disruptions. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted additional vulnerabilities in our supply chain logistics. This bill addresses those vulnerabilities to make sure DoD can deliver supplies such as antibiotics and high blood pressure medicine to our service members. It also requires additional stress testing to ensure those ‘contingency contracts’ are ready to be called upon, if needed.


“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 bicameral bill to ensure DoD takes steps to reduce its reliance on pharmaceuticals manufactured abroad and to strengthen its supply chains.”


“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,” said Rubio. “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 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.


Read the full DoD IG report here.