WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. House of Representatives last night voted to pass U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger’s bipartisan legislation to strengthen the U.S. pharmaceutical supply chain and support ongoing continuous manufacturing research.
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 another area of manufacturing research.
These investments would provide much-needed assistance to continuous manufacturing programs by supporting advanced manufacturing research, workforce development, and more. Spanberger’s bill — passed in the U.S. House as part of the National Science Foundation for the Future Act — would also authorize grant funding for students pursuing a degree in pharmaceutical engineering.
“In Central Virginia, I’ve seen the ability of cutting-edge biopharmaceutical manufacturing to strengthen our domestic supply chains, increase quantities of American-made pharmaceutical ingredients, and build a highly-skilled workforce to keep us competitive in a 21st century economy. There is exciting work being done in this field across our Commonwealth — especially through advanced manufacturing partnerships between the public and private sectors — that promises to decrease our dependency on foreign-manufactured medications, like those made in China,” said Spanberger. “I am encouraged that my colleagues in the House recognize the importance of investing in continuous manufacturing research, and I look forward to continuing the work to improve the resiliency of our domestic supply chains and help prevent shortages of lifesaving medications.”
Spanberger introduced a standalone version of this legislation earlier this month, which was 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).
Following the introduction of Spanberger’s Continuous Manufacturing Research Act earlier this month, several Virginia pharmaceutical leaders publicly announced their support.
“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.”
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 shortages of critical medications — particularly in the wake of COVID-19.
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.