Trump weaponized Hurricane Maria by withholding aid to Puerto Rico. His continued stalling of US aid to its own territory is crippling its industries and the ability to recover from the devastation. One of those sectors impacted is its pharmaceutical industry. A vibrant biotech region needs companies, centers of educational excellence, and money. Puerto Rico offered huge tax incentives to attract pharmaceutical companies and was wildly successful in building up that industry. However, Trump’s actions or lack of actions will increase the death and chronic disease toll of the hurricanes and will also result in a shortage of life saving medications.
About two thirds of Puerto Rico’s manufacturing output are pharmaceuticals and are regulated by the FDA. Puerto Rico makes 25% of the total U.S. pharmaceutical exports. Importantly, intellectual property is protected by US law. There are research centers in cardiovascular, oncology, and molecular science. The University of Puerto Rico and local high schools have expanded their STEM offerings. The workforce is bilingual, making it easier to work with companies in South America and Mexico. Also growing is Puerto Rico’s medical device and diagnostics market.
Twelve of the top 20-pharmaceutical companies manufacture products in Puerto Rico as do 13 of the top 20 medical device companies. Half of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies manufacture products in Puerto Rico and 13 of the top 20 selling patented drugs are made there. There are 50 pharmaceutical plants on the island. The FDA has a list of 40 drugs the agency is concerned could run short. Of those, 13 are only produced in Puerto Rico. When you look at the pictures of Puerto Ricans and the devastation, imagine what they must look like wearing white lab coats, working in state-of-the-art facilities, and producing life-saving medications. This is what the US government has decided to neglect.
Much of the material presented came from https://pharmaboardroom.com/wp-content/files_mf/1454427075PuertoRicoHCLSReviewJanuary2016Pharmaboardroom.pdf