Heather Johnson: Forthcoming MENA FDA Bureau Bill a Long-Awaited Victory

Heather Johnson: Forthcoming MENA FDA Bureau Bill a Long-Awaited Victory

Friend-shoring to the Abraham Accords Nations is a Viable Path to Peace

Amid a cataclysmic war in the Mideast between the region’s only democracy, Israel, and Iran’s terrorist proxies, there is still every reason to remain hopeful for a brighter future.

This war may have threatened the progress made by the Abraham Accords over the past four years, but as U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said, “Virtually every leader I talked to supports moving forward with integration, normalization.”

Arab leaders’ desire to normalize relations with Israel underscores the shared aspiration for a future free from violence.

Considering that Iran’s terrorist proxies continue to destabilize the region, Arab nations will find more stability and prosperity as they work together with Israel and the U.S., with whom they share a common foe.

One way to further this collaboration and create a “warm peace” between the nations — true collaboration rather than just agreeing not to pursue armed conflict — is to capitalize on the rising economic and medical innovation that is peaking in the region. The vision to friend-shore a significant portion of America’s medical supply chains has never been more relevant or achievable.

Imagine the U.S. relieving geopolitical tensions in the Mideast and North Africa (MENA) region by bringing the Abraham Accords signatory nations closer together through friend-shoring solutions.

The MENA biotech corridor — Israel, UAE, Morocco, and Bahrain — has the potential to improve Americans’ access to essential medical and pharmaceutical supplies, while working in tandem with Israel and the Arab nations who are seeking peace, normalized relations, and economic opportunities.

In 2019, the U.S. Israel Education Association (USIEA) began researching the benefits of friend-shoring and realized that the first crucial step to diversifying American medical supply chains would require a U.S. FDA regional office that would operationalize a friend-shoring solution for Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs).

There are three such offices in China, none in the Mideast or North Africa.

Currently, more than 80% of the APIs used in drugs sold in the U.S. come from overseas, primarily China and India. India is the largest producer of generic medications in the world; however, the U.S. is dependent on China for most of its APIs.

When you consider how China currently clings to its manufacturing monopoly of critical American healthcare needs such as medical devices, pacemakers, saline solution, tubing, and contrast agents — the disruption risk has never been more terrifyingly clear.

The data speaks for itself regarding regularly consumed medicines in the U.S. In 2019 alone, China was responsible for 95% of U.S. imports of ibuprofen, 91% of hydrocortisone, 70% of acetaminophen, 40-45% of penicillin, and 40% of heparin.

Establishing an FDA Bureau for the Abraham Accords countries would provide critical technical assistance to healthcare industries in the region, open new cooperative arrangements, and ease the development of APIs with our friendly and strategic allies in the MENA region.

Today we celebrate a momentous milestone in bringing this idea to reality, as Rep. Diana Harshbarger, R-Tenn., and Juan Vargas, D-Calf., introduced the United States-Abraham Accords Cooperation and Security Act of 2024 (H.R. 7155), calling for the establishment of a U.S. FDA Bureau in the Abraham Accords region.

The bill has strong bipartisan support, with Reps. Rick Allen, R-Ga., Andy Harris, R-Md., Mike Levin, D-Calif., Scott Peters, D-Calif., and Randy Weber, R-Texas, signed on as original co-sponsors.

With escalating tensions between the U.S. and China, America needs to fortify and diversify portions of our life-saving medical supply chains to avoid further disruptions and shortages.

If China were to suddenly turn off any area of medical supply production, prices for medicines would soar in the United States.

U.S. leaders across the political landscape understand firsthand the painstaking medical supply chain catastrophe the U.S. faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, where essential medicines were not available or in dangerously short supply.

Treating this issue is, and should continue to be, a top concern on Capitol Hill.

The foreboding question across the political spectrum is, “Why would we continue to be dependent on China when affordable, low-cost manufacturing alternatives are available with our ally nations?”

The friend-shoring vision is not driven by financial motivation as much as by the increasing national security issue regarding the need to immediately protect America’s essential medical and pharmaceutical supply chains, but pricing is still very competitive. The security and stability of our nation are worth it to stay out of China.

Israel and the UAE are on the cutting edge of the world’s leading technology and healthcare solutions, and they also boast robust biopharmaceutical industries that would greatly benefit the U.S.

The UAE has invested billions to attract, build, and expand both physical and intellectual infrastructure for medical technology development.

Morocco is also well-suited to benefit the U.S. because of its strategic location, price competitiveness, and developed infrastructure compared to the rest of Africa.

Firms from Europe, Asia-Pacific, and the U.S. are already investing millions of dollars in bolstering and expanding their drug production facilities in Morocco.

The Abraham Accords have given way to a new era of cooperation and prosperity in the MENA region, emphasizing the value these allies could bring in the quest to secure our vital healthcare resources.

Today is a milestone for the Abraham Accords countries as Congress introduces legislation that will decisively secure America’s medical future while strengthening our Mideast alliances.

Heather Johnston is the founder and chief executive officer of the U.S. Israel Education Association.


© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Originally Posted on: https://www.newsmax.com/politics/uae-morocco-bahrain/2024/02/05/id/1152361
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