We need to talk about the environment

August 11, 2020
It’s a quiet Tuesday in Washington as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are getting ready for the upcoming political conventions, kicking off next week. In the meantime, we’re digging deeper into the links between the environment and public health, and also last…

It’s a quiet Tuesday in Washington as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are getting ready for the upcoming political conventions, kicking off next week. In the meantime, we’re digging deeper into the links between the environment and public health, and also last week's "Buy American" executive order. Here are 830 words, just about 4 minutes.

We need to talk about the environment

As the country tries to loosen COVID-19’s grip on society, efforts have largely focused on reestablishing economic viability while protecting public health. But it’s important we think about climate change and the connection between human, animal, and environmental health, too. Here’s why—and how. 

In April, right when the United States was experiencing the first spike in coronavirus cases, Harvard researchers affirmed what we feared: there is a clear correlation between air pollution and the COVID-19 death rate.

Meanwhile, new research shows deforestation and extinctions increase the likelihood of pandemics. “[W]hile some species are going extinct, those that tend to survive and thrive—rats and bats, for instance—are more likely to host potentially dangerous pathogens that can make the jump to humans,” reported Nature.

And there’s more evidence that biodiversity loss makes us sick. The depletion of microbes in particular harms our ecosystems and our immune systems, as explained in this piece for the World Economic Forum.

These are just a few examples of how climate change affects public health, as we explained in a blog post marking the inaugural Ozone Action Week.

It’s time to talk about solutions. Make plans to join us in September for BIO IMPACT Digital, where industry and lawmakers will engage in critical discussions about policy to advance biotechnology for agriculture and the environment. 

What we'll cover: how to secure a resilient bioeconomy, animal and food innovations, clean fuels, synthetic biology, and more. (The full schedule is now available online.)

P.S. Partnering is open now, too. Sign up and meet dozens of companies around the world that are working to solve the world’s most pressing problems.   

Click here to learn more about BIO IMPACT Digital and register.


What you need to know about Trump’s “Buy American” order

Last week, President Trump issued another executive order with potential to impact drug manufacturers and patients. Here’s what you need to know.

Dubbed the “Buy American” order, the goal is to increase domestic manufacture of “essential medicines,” “medical countermeasures,” and “critical inputs,” and in turn, decrease America’s reliance on medicines manufactured in foreign countries.   

What it doesn’t do: The order does not require any manufacturer to physically move production of any particular medicines back to the United States. 

What it does do: It incentivizes production in the United States by directing federal agencies involved in contracting for these products to apply preferences aimed at increasing domestic procurement of them. However, agency heads can waive the preferences if sufficient supplies do not exist domestically, or if a number of other exceptions apply. 

The order specifically directs the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to accelerate review and approval of domestically manufactured essential medicines. We anticipate FDA would need to issue some guidance on this in the future.

It might affect trade, too. The order directs the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to modify trade agreements to allow preferential procurement of domestically produced products and allow tariffs on imported medicines. And yes, this could trigger reciprocal action or even tariffs from trading partners. 

What’s next? We expect affected agencies (FDA, HHS, DoD, USTR) to engage in some kind of public dialogue about the implementation, so stay tuned. In the meantime, BIO will continue to work with our allies to mitigate the impacts on our sector and the patients we serve—and articulate why a resilient, diverse, dynamic supply chain is critical to ensuring access to medicines, in normal times and in emergencies.


More Health Care News: 

Biopharma Dive: First oral drug for spinal muscular atrophy approved by FDA
“The approval caps a remarkable change in the standard of care for a disease that, just four years ago, had no available treatments. For patients and their families, the arrival of Evrysdi presents a unique choice between a one-time gene therapy, an RNA-based drug-infused three times a year at the doctor's office, and a daily medicine taken at home.” 

Reuters: Gilead seeks U.S. approval for COVID-19 treatment remdesivir
“The antiviral drug, which helped shorten the hospital recovery time in a U.S. trial, has been at the forefront of the battle against the pandemic after the FDA granted it emergency use authorization (EUA) in May.” 

The Wall Street Journal: During COVID-19 pandemic, biotech IPOs already surpass record
“So far this year, U.S.-listed biotech companies have raised roughly $9.4 billion in initial public offerings, already beating the $6.5 billion raised in all of 2018, the biggest year on record, according to Dealogic data going back to 1995.”

BIO Beltway Report

President Trump’s Tuesday: Not much on the agenda other than a phone call with U.S. sheriffs.

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: It’s a quiet week in Washington, though work continues behind the scenes on recent executive orders and COVID-19 response. As a reminder, the Democratic National Convention kicks off next Monday, August 17, and the Republican National Convention the following week; here’s a good explanation of what to expect from the DNC.

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