America Needs and Deserves Pharmaceutical Onshoring Today

(AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)

President Trump ran on a promise to put America first, and he has said time and time again he wants more businesses to move their manufacturing here. Four years later, he is continuing the drumbeat of that promise.


On August 6, 2020, President Trump visited Ohio and made many promises to the American people. One of those promises was to “turn America into the premier medical manufacturer, pharmacy, and drugstore of the world.” He said, “the United States must produce essential equipment, supplies, and pharmaceuticals for ourselves. We cannot rely on China and other nations across the globe that could one day deny us products in a time of need.”


The President also promised, “beyond our medical supply chains, over the next four years, we will onshore millions of new manufacturing jobs across many other critical sectors that are vital to our national security and prosperity – from electronics to machine tools, to shipping, aerospace, auto, and of course, to iron and steel.”


In the wake of COVID-19, President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act (DPA) to help bring pharmaceutical and medical supply chains back to the United States. Under the DPA, the Trump administration, led by Peter Navarro, started the process of awarding the American company, Eastman Kodak, a $765 million loan to begin the groundbreaking work of onshoring pharmaceuticals.


Recently, a couple of Kodak executives came under fire after stock options granted in advance of the loan announcement surged in value. Kodak is taking this very seriously and has already started an internal investigation and review into these investments. Unfortunately for the American people, these alleged potential suspect stock options have led to a halt in the loan proceedings.


It is important to point out that this is a loan, not a grant. The company is expected to pay the money back, all while creating more jobs and securing effective domestic pharmaceuticals. The potential that there were some bad decisions made by Kodak executives does not mean the country should be punished. Kodak should finish their internal investigation while they work to jumpstart the domestic pharmaceutical supply chain.


There was a reason Kodak was picked for this project. Not only did Navarro recognize the company as the best choice for this challenge, but he also told Fox Business that, “by the time this thing ramps up, 25 percent of the [active pharmaceutical ingredients] for generics we need in the United States is going to be right at that facility.” If Kodak is the best company for this project, then the Trump administration has a duty to the American people to let them work.


I have met with President Trump to discuss critical COVID-19 issues, and I know he wants to help. He must take this opportunity to strengthen our domestic supply chain and make more American drugs here. Kodak is the company that can succeed; holding them back is only delaying a necessary step.