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Do you, or does anyone you know, take a generic prescription drug? If so, you might be interested to learn that, in less than 10 days, one of the nation’s largest manufacturers of generic prescription drugs is scheduled to shut its doors and outsource its operations to India.

If federal leaders do not take steps to intervene, the Viatris Pharmaceutical plant (formerly Mylan) in Morgantown, where I have worked for 22 years, will shut down. Nearly 1,500 men and women will lose their jobs and their insurance. Millions of Americans could lose reliable access to affordable, lifesaving drugs.

Every year, the highly skilled union workers, researchers and scientists at Mylan Pharmaceuticals can manufacture over 18 billion doses of domestic medicines that treat heart disease, thyroid conditions, mental health issues and more.

In November 2020, Mylan merged with Upjohn (a Pfizer subsidiary), creating a new company called Viatris. Less than one month later, two weeks before Christmas, the local union was notified that our plant would be closing permanently on July 31, 2021. Viatris intends to move manufacturing to India and Australia, and then ship the drugs back to the United States and reap huge profits.

It’s part of a disturbing trend, one that national leaders claim they want to reverse in the interest of national security. Yet, American leaders will allow placing the health of our citizens entirely in the hands of foreign manufacturers.

That seems risky for our nation.

In fact, President Joe Biden recently committed to investing in domestic manufacturing of active pharmaceutical ingredients, of which 80% now are made in India and China, where health and safety guidelines don’t always conform to U.S. Food and Drug Administration standards.

These ingredients could be made right here in West Virginia. The Mylan plant has shown itself as a world-class, turnkey facility that has manufactured quality, safe, effective and affordable drugs for Medicare and Medicaid, our military and Veterans Affairs. Keeping this facility going will reduce America’s dependence on foreign supply chains for our much-needed, lifesaving medicines.

If you’ve tried to order anything online in the past year, you know that global supply chains are very unpredictable right now. Waiting months for an appliance, computer chips and other necessities has made America even more dependent on foreign countries during the pandemic.

The Mylan plant in Morgantown produced millions of doses for the U.S. government during last spring’s onset of COVID-19. We stopped producing doses for COVID-19 because our supply was cut off by China. Furthermore, as our nation stumbles out of a pandemic that has claimed the lives of more than 600,000 Americans, the last issue we need is another preventable health care crisis.

The clock is ticking. There are just a few days left to save our domestic plant and preserve this critical link in our domestic pharmaceutical supply chain. The Defense Production Act funding can keep this facility producing high-quality, reliable medicines right here in the United States.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., holds power in Washington, and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., could be crucial to this effort, too.

Manchin could take on the task of preserving this plant and call on Capito to assist in hammering out a plan to save the site. In a single swoop, they would be protecting public health, advancing bipartisanship, ensuring national security and protecting livelihood of their constituents.

The people of West Virginia are calling for help. We need it now. We hope our senators will gain the Biden administration’s attention and do some immediate good for the West Virginians who have supported them, and for our nation’s independence, as well.

Joseph Gouzd is an employee at the former Mylan (now Viatris) plant in Morgantown. He also is president of United Steelworkers of America Local 8-957, which represents many workers there.

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