Trump administration pledges huge loan to Kodak to develop drug ingredients
US government says it will use the Defense Production Act to help turn a former producer of photographic films into a producer of pharmaceutical ingredients, including those for hydroxychloroquine, antimalarial President Donald Trump has touted as a treatment to ward off the coronavirus.
“Today, I am proud to announce one of the most important deals in the history of the American pharmaceutical industries,” Trump told reporters in the White House briefing room Tuesday afternoon.
Kodak will receive a $ 765 million loan under the Defense Production Act to start a pharmaceutical company, creating hundreds of jobs, Trump said.
It’s not a done deal, however, according to the White House.
A letter of intent has been signed and final negotiations are continuing under which the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) will provide the loan.
The DFC is supposed to focus on lending for overseas projects as an alternative to China’s Belt and Road infrastructure initiative.
Members of the Democratic Party of Congress wonder why the DFC is taking on a national role it was not intended for.
When fully operational, Kodak will have the capacity to produce 25% of the generic active pharmaceutical ingredients needed for all non-biologic and non-antibacterial pharmaceuticals used in the United States, according to the White House.
Currently, 90% of all prescriptions written in the country are for generic drugs, which Trump says “can be as good as brand names but cost a lot less.”
Less than 10% of the active pharmaceutical ingredients in these drugs sold in the United States are made in the country, with “more than 50% made in India and China,” the president said.
Kodak, which declared bankruptcy in 2012, was once a household name in America and much of the world – having a virtual monopoly for much of the 20th century on photographic and motion pictures in North America and elsewhere.
“It was one of the big brands in the world,” Trump said. “Then people went digital and Kodak didn’t follow suit. “
The 132-year-old company will work with the U.S. government and manufacturers to identify the products most needed to meet national security requirements, the White House said.
“What we have with this project and Kodak could be one of the greatest second acts in American industrial history,” said Peter Navarro, the White House trade adviser earlier today.
“This is a breakthrough in bringing pharmaceutical manufacturing back to the United States,” Trump said.
Kodak’s stock price, which tripled during normal trading hours on Tuesday, rose another 40% after Trump’s remarks.
The White House said support for Kodak’s new venture would be the 33rd time this administration has used the $ 3.2 billion Defense Production Act “to provide critical resource support essential medical and industrial base.
Kodak CEO Jim Continenza told the Democrat & Chronicle newspaper in Rochester, New York, the company’s hometown, that the company has “a very long history in chemical and advanced materials – well over 100 years ago. years “and that its existing infrastructure will allow the new business” to be up and running quickly. “
Trump has given New York Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo scarce praise for supporting the initiative.
The two politicians recently argued over responses to the coronavirus pandemic, with Cuomo commenting that if the Trump administration had done its job, the virus would not have come to New York.
Cuomo released a statement on the Kodak initiative on Monday, saying that “too often we’ve heard that these materials are made in China or made in India. America could not support itself. It just can’t happen again. “