Trump administration picks US firm to manufacture COVID-19 drugs now made overseas

Trump administration picks US firm to manufacture COVID-19 drugs now made overseas
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The Trump administration is awarding a $354 million four-year contract to a Virginia-based company to manufacture generic medicines and pharmaceutical ingredients needed to treat COVID-19, federal officials and the company announced Tuesday. 

Phlow Corp. said in a release it was awarded the federal contract to create “essential medicines at risk of shortage,” including medicines needed for the COVID-19 pandemic response.

"Years from now, historians will see this innovative project as a defining moment and inflection point for protecting American families‑—and our country—from current and future public health threats," Peter Navarro, the White House trade adviser, said in the company’s release. 

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Navarro said the country has “relied on foreign manufacturing and supply chains” for “far too long.” 

“We are now moving swiftly in Trump time to forge an American solution, one that leads with American ingenuity, American workers, and American factories all dedicated to ending our drug shortages and expanding drug manufacturing infrastructure for a healthy and secure future,” he added. 

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar meanwhile focused on President TrumpDonald John TrumpMulvaney: 'We've overreacted a little bit' to coronavirus Former CBS News president: Most major cable news outlets 'unrelentingly liberal' in 'fear and loathing' of Trump An old man like me should be made more vulnerable to death by COVID-19 MORE’s “America First” economic promises.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us how health threats or other sources of instability can threaten America’s medical supply chains, potentially endangering Americans’ health,” said Azar said in the announcement.

“America has the capabilities, resources, and expertise to secure our medical supply chains; now the Trump Administration is providing the leadership to make it happen. Working with the private sector, HHS is taking a significant step to rebuild our domestic ability to protect ourselves from health threats by utilizing American-made ingredients and creating new American jobs in the process,” he added.

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The contract may be extended for a total of $812 million over 10 years, which The New York Times reported would make it one of the largest awards in the history of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.

Phlow Corp. on its website declares the U.S. drug supply chain is “broken” and becoming “dangerously dependent upon foreign suppliers for our most essential generic medicines.” 

“In the midst of this pandemic, America needs a reliable source of high quality, domestically manufactured, affordable pharmaceuticals and their key ingredients," Dr. Eric Edwards, president and CEO of Phlow, said in the release. "This advanced manufacturing capability will significantly fortify our nation's pharmaceutical supply chain for critical medicines, including many required to treat patients hospitalized with COVID-19."

--Updated at 9:08 a.m.