WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger last night voted with a majority of the U.S. House of Representatives to pass a bipartisan bill that would help prevent drug shortages, reduce America’s dependency on foreign-based pharmaceuticals, and strengthen continuous prescription drug production here in the United States.
Continuous manufacturing is an emerging technology whereby a finished product is produced in a continuous stream, making it more efficient than the current “batch” model that can be slow and may be subject to the risk of defects or errors during the manufacturing process. The pioneering technology allows product quality to be precisely controlled, reduces challenges in scaling up production, can more readily produce ranges of drug strengths and doses, and requires less physical space. These factors allow production sites to be located in or closer to the United States — reducing the need for transcontinental shipping.
The Spanberger-supported National Centers of Excellence in Advanced and Continuous Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Act would allow the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to partner with universities across the country with experience in these technologies to advance pharmaceutical production. Specifically, the bipartisan bill would designate certain universities as National Centers of Excellence in Advanced and Continuous Pharmaceutical Manufacturing — allowing them to work with the FDA and private companies to further develop and implement advanced and continuous manufacturing technology.
“Advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing holds the potential to solve many of the challenges of our nation’s prescription drug supply chain. Following the chaos of the COVID-19 crisis, we should be focused on more than creating new jobs in this space — we should also leverage this exciting field to prevent shortages, boost our domestic production, and lower costs,” said Spanberger. “In Central Virginia, we are proud to be a prominent leader in this emerging field. Thanks to the work of pioneering research institutions like VCU, we are supporting thousands of future jobs in our region and across the country — and we are blazing a path towards prescription drug independence. This legislation would bolster these ongoing efforts, and it would demonstrate a vote of confidence in America’s researchers, students, and companies.”
“The National Centers of Excellence in Advanced and Continuous Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Act is critical to ensure that institutions of higher education are able to provide crucial research, data and leadership on continuous pharmaceutical manufacturing,” said Michael Rao, Ph.D., President, Virginia Commonwealth University. “This is vital to help guarantee that our country has the essential medicines needed to keep people alive and to address public health threats such as COVID-19.”
Specifically, the bipartisan bill would authorize $100 million in federal investments to support the efforts of National Centers of Excellence in Advanced and Continuous Pharmaceutical Manufacturing. The legislation is led in the U.S. House by U.S. Representative Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ-06).
Spanberger has long supported the Central Virginia biopharmaceutical industry and worked to prevent shortages of critical medicines, including by:
- Introducing major legislation to create an emergency reserve of active pharmaceutical ingredients and support thousands of new Central Virginia jobs. Last month at VCU, Spanberger announced the introduction of bipartisan and bicameral legislation that would create an emergency reserve of key ingredients used in essential generic medicines and incentivize domestic manufacturing of these ingredients. Her Promoting Readiness and Ensuring Proper Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient Reserves of Essential Medicines (PREPARE) Act would help create and support thousands of new jobs within the Richmond area’s burgeoning biopharmaceutical sector and help strengthen America’s domestic pharmaceutical supply chain.
- Providing much-needed assistance to continuous manufacturing programs. In June 2021, Spanberger led a bipartisan group of her colleagues in introducing the Continuous Manufacturing Research Act, which would allow the National Science Foundation to award grants for research into advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing. The U.S. House passed her legislation later that month.
- Experiencing Central Virginia’s cutting-edge biopharmaceutical innovation and research firsthand. In February 2021, Spanberger toured the VCU Medicines for All Institute’s lab to learn more about its work with Phlow Corporation to prevent domestic shortage of critical medications — particularly in the wake of COVID-19.