New company to make coronavirus drugs in US after Trump awards contract

The contract could extend to $812 million over 10 years

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President Trump on Tuesday awarded a $354 million, four-year government contract to a new pharmaceutical company that will manufacture coronavirus drugs in the U.S.

The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority awarded Phlow Corp. with the contract, which may extend to a total of $812 million over 10 years, the company said. The move highlights Trump's efforts to move forward with plans to bring the country's drug supply chain — mostly in China and India — back to the U.S.

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"Years from now, historians will see this innovative project as a defining moment and inflection point for protecting American families — and our country — from current and future public health threats," White House trade advisor Peter Navarro said.

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room, March 27, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Navarro told the New York Times that the contract "will not only help bring our essential medicines home but actually do so in a way that is cost-competitive with the sweatshops and pollution havens of the world."

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"This advanced manufacturing capability will significantly fortify our nation's pharmaceutical supply chain for critical medicines, including many required to treat patients hospitalized with COVID-19," Phlow CEO Dr. Eric Edwards said in a statement.

CORONAVIRUS THREATENS CHINESE PRODUCTION, THREATENS US DRUG SUPPLY

Phlow, which was founded in January, will work with a number of private-sector companies and organizations to complete the task, including nonprofit U.S. drug manufacturer Civica Rx, custom pharmaceutical manufacturer Ampac Fine Chemicals and the Medicines for All Institute, a pharmaceutical manufacturing innovation nonprofit aimed at driving down production costs at the University of Virginia Commonwealth School of Engineering.

In this March 2020 photo provided by Gilead Sciences, rubber stoppers are placed onto filled vials of the investigational drug remdesivir at a Gilead manufacturing site in the United States. (Gilead Sciences via AP)

Edwards said he created the company with the goal to bring the supply chain back into the U.S. in mind and had initially planned to focus on children's medicine before the pandemic struck.

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Edwards is also the founder of pharmaceutical company Kaléo, which in 2013 created an EpiPen alternative called Auvi-Q. The drug was recalled in 2015, however, because it may not have been delivering the proper dosage of "epinephrine," according to the Times.

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Only 28 percent of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) supplied to the country are manufactured within the U.S. while 72 percent of the APIs supplied to the U.S. are manufactured overseas, including13 percent in China, according to 2019 testimony from Center for Drug Evaluation and Research Director Janet Woodcock.