Co-Authored by Sharath Patil
Weaknesses in the Public Health Industrial Base
Critical technology shortages have been a focus of President Trump’s trade and industrial policies. In an October 2020 report on the topic, the Trump administration identified medical and public health technologies as a key sector in which the U.S. needs to do more to protect and cultivate its technological advantage. According to some analysts, the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that the United States’ public health industrial base is overly reliant on imports for critical medical and pharmaceutical needs. The first few months of the pandemic were characterized by significant shortages of key medical supplies such as ventilators and personal protective equipment. However, this overreliance pre-dated the pandemic. For example, in October 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) estimated that the United States accounts for only 28 percent of global active pharmaceutical ingredient (“API”) manufacturing facilities and that 80 percent of APIs consumed in the United States are produced abroad, the majority in China and India.