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Marsha Blackburn speaks about Coronavirus, Securing America’s Medicine Cabinet Act

 

U.S. SenateWashington, D.C. – Senator Marsha Blackburn spoke with Fox Business’s Charles Payne and on the Senate floor about her Securing America’s Medicine Cabinet Act and the coronavirus outbreak.

Remarks as prepared:

Thank you, Mister President.

On Tuesday, my colleague Senator Menendez and I introduced the Securing America’s Medicine Cabinet, or, SAM-C, Act to encourage an increase in American manufacturing of active pharmaceutical ingredients.

Senator Marsha Blackburn.

Senator Marsha Blackburn.

But given last night’s news, I wanted to back up for a moment and highlight the important work being done in Tennessee and across the country to support our nation’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Many Americans are very concerned about the availability of testing.

As you all know, this virus is novel, which means that we did not have test kits on the shelves before the outbreak started. The tests that we do have are not instant, like a flu or pregnancy test.

Top scientists at Vanderbilt University and other institutions are developing faster techniques; but for now, any test offered must be sent to a lab for analysis.

Although these tests provide important information, we must continue to focus on preventing transmission where we can.

Just outside of Knoxville, at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, researchers have used cutting edge technology to identify 77 drug candidates for targeting the novel coronavirus using Summit, the world’s fastest supercomputer. 

Enabled by the screening of a database containing more than 8,000 known drug compounds, the researchers accomplished in days what would have taken years for scientists to do in the lab.

In my remarks yesterday, I went into detail about the decades-long effort by scientists at Vanderbilt University’s Denison Laboratory to study coronaviruses.

I want to iterate one important point—that all across the country, scientists just like our friends at Vandy are developing the antivirals and vaccines that will eventually be used to combat multiple strains of coronavirus—not just this particular outbreak.

The U.S. is a leader in research and development of pharmaceuticals. Our labs, talent, and capacity for innovation are the envy of the world. 

But right now, we depend heavily on Chinese and other foreign companies to manufacture active pharmaceutical ingredients.

When this happens, we lose control of our drug supply.

And that is where the SAM-C Act comes in.

While this bill will not solve our immediate problem, once passed, it will incentivize companies that specialize in development, manufacturing, and workforce training to bring their operations back to the safety of U.S.-based labs and institutes of learning.

I encourage my colleagues to think ahead, offer their support to Senate Bill 3432, and commit to securing our pharmaceutical supply chain.

I yield the floor.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions.


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