By Andrea Shalal and Susan Heavey
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday will sign a long-awaited executive order aimed at boosting American production of medicines and medical equipment, and protecting the United States against shortfalls in a future pandemic, a top adviser said.
It will include a "Buy America" provision mandating federal purchases of certain medical supplies and equipment deemed essential, moves to accelerate approval of new U.S. drugs, and steps to boost use of advanced manufacturing techniques, White House adviser Peter Navarro told reporters.
The order had been expected for months as part of a drive by the Trump administration to pull back supply chains from China, but got stalled in a lengthy legal review, Navarro said.
The proposed measure has faced criticism from business groups, which agreed with the goal of reducing reliance on foreign ingredients for medicines but warned against potential backlash from China and other suppliers at a time when more than 1,000 people a day are dying of COVID-19 in the United States.
So far, more than 157,000 people in the United States have died from COVID-19, with 4.8 million known COVID-19 cases.(Open https://tmsnrt.rs/2WTOZDR in an external browser for a Reuters interactive graphic)
Navarro said it was critical to act now to prevent future crises and ensure sufficient demand so U.S. companies could affordably manufacture pharmaceuticals at home, and end their reliance on key ingredients and supplies from China.
"We are dangerously dependent," said Navarro. "The United States must protect its citizens, critical infrastructure, military forces and economy against outbreaks of emerging infectious diseases."
He said the order would also crack down on internet sales of counterfeit medicines, many of which he said came from China.
The Buy America provisions will require the Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. military and the Veterans Administration to procure only U.S.-made goods to meet certain essential needs, Navarro said.
He said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would draw up a list of essential medicines, inputs and countermeasures affected by the order.
The order, first reported by USA Today, will also direct the FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency to give priority status to U.S. drug ingredient manufacturers during their regulatory review process.
Trump is scheduled to travel to Ohio to visit a Whirlpool manufacturing plant and hold a fundraiser for his re-election campaign before traveling to his New Jersey golf resort for the weekend, according to the White House.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal and Susan Heavey; editing by Jonathan Oatis)