Pharmacist Rep. Carter on how coronavirus impacts US pharmaceutical supply

Congressman Earl L. "Buddy" Carter, R-Ga., who is a pharmacist, discussed on “Fox & Friends Weekend” on Sunday how the novel coronavirus impacts U.S. pharmaceutical supply, as the country has seen more than 2,100 cases of COVID-19.

The novel coronavirus, which is believed to have originated in Wuhan, China, is causing businesses, health officials and patients to worry about the potential prescription drug shortages, especially because the vast majority of active ingredients in medicines dispensed in America are made in factories overseas, including in China.

When asked if America will experience a shortage, Carter said, “Thus far we haven't experienced much of a shortage at all.”

“However, this is an important warning for us much like the late '70s when we found ourselves dependent on foreign oil and we realized that we needed to be energy-independent, we find ourselves now in a situation where we are dependent on China, India, outsourcing these products that we're going to need,” he continued. “We need to be pharmaceutically independent as well. That's going to be something very important in the future.”

Dr. Mehmet Oz, who also appeared on “Fox & Friends Weekend,” noted on Sunday that he has noticed that doctors are treating critically ill patients with solutions that worked for Ebola, HIV and malaria and asked Carter if he is worried that those products are going to be the “least findable in the world” given the current demand for them.

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“I am concerned and I think we should all be concerned,” Carter said in response.

Last month, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated it would take 18 months to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus.

Carter said that “currently my office is working on legislation that will encourage pharmaceutical manufactures to move their plants back here to America, to repatriate this to give them incentives to be able to come back here.”

“We need to make sure we're prepared for this,” Carter continued, noting that “90 percent of all the antibiotics, 90 percent of ibuprofen, of hydrocortisone and some of the vitamins come from China.”

“That's something we need to address and we need to do it immediately,” he went on to say.

When asked if he plans to mandate or encourage the supply chain to come back to America Carter said, “it would be through encouragement.”

“Obviously this is important for not only our health security, but for our national security,” he continued. “We've already seen some incidents where China has threatened us in a way that they are going to use this against us, well we cannot allow that to happen.”

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“This is important to our national security, so yes I would rather do it through encouragement. I don't want to mandate it, but at the same time, we've got to have this,” he added.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.