Rep. Schakowsky, Sen. Warren Reintroduce Legislation To Have Government Manufacture Critical Pandemic Products

February 2, 2021
Press Release
Pandemic Manufacturing Act of 2021 Would Speed Production of Items Such as Gloves, Masks, and Vaccine Supplies

WASHINGTON - Today, Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Chair of the Energy and Commerce Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee, and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) introduced the Pandemic Emergency Manufacturing Act of 2021 to publicly manufacture personal protective equipment, prescription drugs, and other medical supplies necessary to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation authorizes the federal government to manufacture medical products, including by contracting with existing manufacturers, to ensure the nation has an adequate supply of critical materials to avoid rationing during this unprecedented crisis.

In 2018, Representative Schakowsky and Senator Warren introduced the Affordable Drug Manufacturing Act to radically reduce drug prices through public manufacturing of prescription drugs and re-introduced it in 2019. The Pandemic Emergency Manufacturing Act of 2021 builds off of the lawmakers’ original public manufacturing bill to ensure that the federal government harnesses its full manufacturing, contracting, and coordinating capacity during the pandemic.

The legislation builds on an existing model in which the federal government contracts with private manufacturers to produce drugs critical to national security, and for which there is often a limited or non-existent commercial market.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating for health care workers, long-term care residents, and families across the United States. The Trump administration had no plan to scale up the production of personal protective equipment, prescription drugs, and medical supplies we needed to survive this crisis,” said Congresswoman Schakowsky. “We are thankful for President Biden’s leadership and believe that it is critical to look ahead to the future. Current COVID-19 treatments and drugs will be manufactured under a recent Executive Order, but the United States cannot continue to be unprepared as new vaccines and treatments are developed. This bill will help scale up supplies and increase our capacity for development and distribution for future COVID-19 drugs that are developed and proven to be effective in the fight against the virus.”

“The Biden administration is stepping in where the Trump administration utterly failed to make sure our states and communities have enough PPE, COVID-19 tests, and now vaccines, but Congress should prepare to do more,” states Senator Warren. “Our bill enables the federal government to rapidly produce the equipment, supplies, vaccines, and prescription drugs Americans need when they need it most -- in this and in any future public health emergencies.”

The Pandemic Manufacturing Act of 2021 will: 

•            Establish an Emergency Office of Manufacturing for Public Health to ensure an adequate supply of drugs, devices, biological products, active pharmaceutical ingredients, and other supplies necessary to diagnose, mitigate, and treat COVID-19 and to address shortages in products used to treat non-COVID conditions and illnesses.

•            Require the Office to manufacture, or enter into contracts to manufacture, COVID-19 products and other critical drugs and medical devices in shortage. The Office will be required to provide COVID-19 products at no cost to federal, state, local, and tribal health programs and to sell COVID-19 products at cost to international and other commercial entities. The Office will be required to sell the additional products it manufactures at a transparent and reasonable price to domestic and international entities.

•            Direct the Office to begin manufacturing, or enter into contracts to manufacture, PPE, diagnostic test materials, COVID-19 treatment drugs within one month of the Act's passage. The Office will prioritize production of items that have the most impact on public health and the economy, that address shortages, and that alleviate demographic disparities in COVID-19.

•            Direct the Office to begin constructing, or enter into contracts to construct, vaccine and therapeutic manufacturing facilities to ensure the immediate production, at-scale, of COVID-19 vaccines when such vaccines become available.

•            Provide transparency into the Office's activities by mandating Inspector General reviews of all of the Office's contracts, requiring periodic reports to Congress, and forcing the Office to publicly post its prices for COVID-19 and other products as well as any licensing agreements. 

The Pandemic Manufacturing Act of 2021 has been endorsed by numerous groups, including Public Citizen, Social Security Works, Center for Medicare Advocacy, Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), Action Center on Race and the Economy, Physicians for a National Health Program, MomsRising, Families USA, Treatment Action Group, UNITE HERE!, Progressive Democrats of America, National Women’s Health Network, The Labor Campaign for Single Payer Healthcare, PrEP4All, Lower Drug Prices Now, Universities Allied For Essential Medicines, National Adult Day Services Association, The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, Main Street Alliance Action Fund, Democracy Collaborative, Center for Popular Democracy Action, Faith in Healthcare, Oxfam America, Doctors for America, and Free the Vaccine for COVID-19.

“Medical rationing is terrifying. Many people have died for lack of access to ventilators and vaccines, and many more will die unless our government gets far more imaginative than it was under Trump,” says Peter Maybarduk, Director of Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines program. “It is our government’s responsibility to bring a swift end to the pandemic. That means immediately mobilizing new production capabilities and making the best technology to slow the spread and protect each other available to all. Public Citizen is grateful for Sen. Warren and Rep. Schakowsky’s leadership.” 

“Thousands of Americans are dying of COVID-19 every day. Public manufacturing is urgently needed in order to produce more vaccines, more PPE, and more treatments,” says Alex Lawson, Executive Director of Social Security Works. “The sooner Congress passes the Pandemic Emergency Manufacturing Act into law, the more lives it will save.”