Biden to invoke Cold War-era law to boost medical supplies

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden will invoke a Cold War-era measure to boost investment in U.S. manufacturing of medicines and medical supplies that he has deemed important for national defense, the White House said.

The announcement is part of a series of measures the Biden administration is unveiling on Monday to help industrial supply chains and counter several years of historically high inflation.

Biden will authorize the Department of Health and Human Services to use powers under the Cold War-era Defense Production Act to enable investments in “essential medicines,” the White House said in a statement.

The areas of investment also include “medical countermeasures,” which include supplies that diagnose, prevent, or treat diseases related to chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear attacks.

Biden, a Democrat who is running for re-election in 2024, is eager to show Americans that he is tackling inflation and addressing broad concerns about the state of the U.S. economy. He is holding his first meeting of a new White House Council on Supply Chain Resilience on Monday.

Lael Brainard, head of Biden’s National Economic Council, told reporters on a conference call that supply chain stress had come down from record highs hit during the COVID-19 pandemic but more work was left to be done.

(Reporting by Jason Lange and Jeff Mason; Editing by Sonali Paul)