Puerto Rico is, they say, “the Medicine Cabinet of the U.S.A.” The territory exports more pharmaceutical products than California or Indiana — more, in fact, than any state. Of the top 20 medications in the world, Puerto Rico produces half. 75% of FDA Class III device manufacturers are in Puerto Rico Pharmaceuticals and medical devices make up 70% of Puerto Rico’s exports. The territory already has multiple FDA-approved production facilities, and a bilingual workforce with experience in this field.
At the same time, the United States has recently seen the drawbacks to relying on foreign countries for the medical supply chain. The majority of generic drugs and Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient or APIs have been made in India and China. During the pandemic, supply chain disruptions made it clear that this is not good business for the USA. As manufacturers across the nation work to shorten their supply chains, Puerto Rico is in the perfect position to step up as a pharmaceutical producer.
How can it be that Puerto Rico produces half the top drugs but generics and APIs for compounding are produced overseas? American pharmaceutical companies would rather put their resources into blockbuster brand-name drugs, which are extremely profitable. As drug patents expire, generic drugs tend to be shunted to offshore facilities for the sake of the lower costs.
But as more of the high-dollar drug patents expire, biosimilars are becoming more important. Biosimilar drugs are biologically identical to drugs which have already been approved by the FDA. This is the fastest-growing class of drugs in the United States. Biosimilar Solutions, Inc. is investing $200 million in a production facility in Aguadilla. It is expected to provide 350 new jobs in the northwestern city.
This is not the only private investment in Puerto Rico biotech this year. Cytolmmune Therapies has allocated a substantial investment of $28 million towards the development of innovative cancer treatments in Toa Baja, aiming to revolutionize the field. With this investment, the company anticipates the creation of 100 new job opportunities, contributing to the local economy and advancing the fight against cancer.
The federal government has also dedicated millions toward biotechnology. Grants and other financial support will eb available for the industry in Puerto Rico as well as in the states.
What’s great about Puerto Rico for biotech
Puerto Rico, as a territory of the United States, is under U.S. laws and regulations. This gives consumers confidence and makes it easier for manufacturers to ensure compliance. Most of the residents are U.S. citizens and the currency is the U.S. dollar. This makes it easy for American companies to site production facilities in Puerto Rico.
The existence of an experienced workforce is important. Puerto Rico also has a high concentration of scientists and STEM-trained workers. Puerto Rico’s universities are home to experts in bio-technology and medical agriculture, too.
Logistics are already in place for controlled substances, medical devices, and other healthcare products.
Puerto Rico’s status
This potential benefits the United States while Puerto Rico is a territory of the U.S. It will also benefit the nation when Puerto Rico is admitted as a state.
If Puerto Rico were to become an independent nation, the Island would lose the benefits described above, and the United States would lose the benefits of Puerto Rico’s manufacturing strength.
Ask your legislators to go ahead and get on the right side of history by supporting the Puerto Rico Status Act.