Spanberger Leads Introduction of Bipartisan Bill to Strengthen Pharmaceutical Supply Chain, Allow Continuous Manufacturing Research to Receive National Science Foundation Funding

Jun 15, 2021

The Legislation Would Authorize National Science Foundation Grants for Manufacturing Techniques that Can Improve the Resiliency of U.S. Domestic Supply Chains & Bolster Manufacturing of Essential Medicines Recently Prone to Shortages

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger led a bipartisan group of her colleagues in introducing legislation that would strengthen the U.S. pharmaceutical supply chain and support ongoing continuous manufacturing research.

The bipartisan legislation — the Continuous Manufacturing Research Act — would allow the National Science Foundation (NSF) to award grants for research into advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing — including continuous manufacturing research. Currently, the NSF can use existing grant funding to support manufacturing research and education in six key areas — nanomanufacturing, robotics, advanced sensing and control techniques, manufacturing enterprise systems, materials processing, and IT for manufacturing.

The Spanberger-led legislation would establish advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing as a seventh area of manufacturing research. These investments would provide much-needed assistance to continuous manufacturing programs by supporting advanced manufacturing research, workforce development, and more. Additionally, the bill would authorize grant funding for students pursuing a degree in pharmaceutical engineering.  

“In Central Virginia, we have seen the incredible impacts that cutting-edge biopharmaceutical jobs have brought to our community, particularly through advanced manufacturing partnerships between the public and private sectors. Continuous manufacturing techniques lead to strong domestic supply chains, more American-made pharmaceutical ingredients, and a skilled, highly-trained workforce that can keep our nation competitive in the 21st century,” said Spanberger. “This bipartisan bill would make sure that the National Science Foundation has the tools it needs to make this vision of the future a reality. I am proud to introduce legislation that both recognizes the need for this critical research and allows for investments in American-made, lifesaving medications — because advanced manufacturing techniques have tremendous potential to improve the resiliency of our domestic supply chains and help reduce and prevent medicine shortages.”

Spanberger’s bipartisan legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Representatives Paul Tonko (D-NY-20), David B. McKinley (R-WV-01), Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH-16), Peter Meijer (R-MI-03), and Deborah K. Ross (D-NC-02).

“Advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing offers incredible opportunities for America’s scientists, innovators and entrepreneurs to develop new, safe and affordable treatments that better the lives of our fellow Americans and increase our nation’s competitiveness abroad,” said Tonko. “Investing in these vital technologies will support local jobs, bolster our health care system including reducing or ending shortages of routine drugs, and secure domestic supply chains that are vital to our economy and national security. I’m proud to join with my colleagues to push for our legislation to authorize research into this important field and advance U.S. leadership in manufacturing.”

“Building more resilient supply chains is the first step to protecting the health of American families and reducing our dependency on China,” said Gonzalez. “I am pleased to support this bipartisan legislation that will expand innovation in pharmaceutical manufacturing technology and prevent shortages that could compromise public health.”

“This bill authorizes investments in research that will spur job growth, enhance our international competitiveness, and reduce drug shortages,” said Ross. “Advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing techniques hold immense promise. By supporting the development of groundbreaking new ways of producing the drugs of the future, we can help to ensure that America remains a global leader in health care innovation and that more essential medicines are manufactured here and in North Carolina. I’m thankful for Congresswoman Spanberger’s thoughtful work on this important issue.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic exposed significant weakness in our supply chain infrastructure. I am proud to support this bill to address these deficiencies and build up our pharmaceutical supply chain. As a member of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, I am pleased that this legislation is included in our National Science Foundation reauthorization,” said Meijer. “West Michigan is home to world-class medical research and manufacturing. This bipartisan bill will help support those key industries.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the fact that we rely on nations like China far too much for our medical supply chain,” said McKinley. “The American people should not have to count on rival nations for essential products. By investing in the development of pharmaceutical manufacturing technology, we can ensure America remains a global leader and help rebuild our economy by reviving the manufacturing industry.”

Earlier this year, Spanberger toured the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Medicines for All Institute’s lab to learn more about its work with Phlow Corporation (Phlow Corp.) to prevent domestic shortage of critical medications — particularly in the wake of COVID-19.

“This legislation highlights a critical need – to strengthen advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing so the United States controls more of its drug production domestically, better enabling us to meet the health care needs of our citizens right here at home,” said B. Frank Gupton, Ph.D., CEO, VCU College of Engineering’s Medicines for All Institute & the Floyd D. Gottwald, Jr. Chair in Pharmaceutical Engineering. “This legislation will help us move students from the classroom into the labs and into the workforce as the next highly skilled generation of engineers, chemists and pharmaceutical engineers who will ensure this work becomes sustainable, something we are deeply committed to continuing at VCU and Medicines for All.”

“We appreciate and acknowledge the continued commitment by Congress with the leadership of Representative Spanberger to prioritize the development of advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing techniques, including continuous manufacturing,” said Eric Edwards, MD, PhD, Co-Founder & CEO, Phlow Corp. “Together with the U.S. Government, Phlow is operationalizing a U.S.-based essential medicine supply chain solution through state-of-the-art green chemistry, continuous flow technology, and other advanced manufacturing processes to re-imagine the development and production of key starting materials, active pharmaceutical ingredients and finished pharmaceutical products critical to U.S. healthcare.”

Spanberger has long advocated for homegrown steps to prevent domestic shortages of critical medications and reduce U.S. dependence on foreign-based pharmaceuticals — including the adoption of continuous manufacturing practices. Last year, she backed two bipartisan bills to strengthen the capacity and security of the U.S. pharmaceutical supply chain amid fears of drug shortages as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In May 2020, VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D. thanked Spanberger and other federal officials for their strong advocacy in support of this partnership.

In March 2020, Spanberger was part of a bipartisan effort calling on the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to consider Phlow’s potential for successful collaboration with the federal government to strengthen U.S. development of essential medications and their ingredients.

Click here to read the full bill text.


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