Afternoon Coffee: Concerns over U.S. reliance on overseas drug manufacturing; EU investigating Google’s bid for Fitbit; hackathon to address supply chain amid COVID-19

Photographee.eu/Adobe Stock

Americans may have noticed a lack of over-the-counter painkillers like acetaminophen this spring. The scarcity highlighted the U.S.’s reliance on China and other countries for pharmaceutical supplies, especially during the COVID-19 disruption, according to a Wall Street Journal article published this week.

The dependence was exposed by supply-chain disruptions and a surge in buying during the coronavirus pandemic, the Wall Street Journal said. Additionally, the Trump administration announced an executive order this week calling on the federal government to buy and give preference to drugs and medical supplies developed and made in the U.S. rather than abroad, according to the website Bio Pharma Dive. The order aims to “support advanced manufacturing processes.” For months, lawmakers introduced a number of bills to revamp the biopharmaceutical supply chain, according to Bio Pharma Dive.

And the Eastman Kodak Company, best known for its film business, recently was awarded a nearly $800 million federal Defense Production Act contract to help with the domestic supply chain for drug ingredients.

EU investigates Google’s plan to buy Fitbit

The European Union opened an investigation this week into Google’s acquisition plan of fitness tracker device giant Fitbit, according to the Associated Press. The EU’s executive commission raised concerns on how the deal would affect or enhance Google’s position in the online ad market.

Google agreed to buy Fitbit for $2.1 billion, according to the article. The EU said the deal might expand Google’s data advantage and raise barriers for competitors to match Google’s online advertising.

“Our investigation aims to ensure that control by Google over data collected through wearable devices as a result of the transaction does not distort competition,” said European Commission Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager.

GS1 US to host virtual hackathon addressing supply chain resiliency

The information standards organization GS1 US is set to host a virtual hackathon called “Flexible and Resilient: Future-Proofing the Supply Chain,” providing an opportunity for developers to leverage blockchain, machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies, according to a press release. The goal is to build an innovative solution to solve highly relevant supply chain challenges exposed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Using the coronavirus disruption as an example, the GS1 US Hackathon will challenge developers to create solutions for manufacturers, retailers, hospitals, distributors, governments and other supply chain professionals to “future-proof” the supply chain. A panel of judges will award a prize pool of $30,000 across multiple categories, and the winners will be announced Oct. 2, 2020. The virtual event will take place Aug. 31 through Sept. 20.

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