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Mashantucket Pequots Planning To Add Generic Drug Manufacturing To Portfolio


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FILE PHOTO: A look at Foxwoods Resort Casino from Route 2 in Preston, Conn., shortly before a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Pequot Woodlands Casino on Friday, Sept. 8, 2023. Credit: Tim Martin / CTNewsJunkie

With an ongoing shortage of hundreds of different drugs and rising pharmaceutical prices driving health care costs higher, one of the state’s two tribal nations has started the process of establishing a manufacturing hub for generic drugs.

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation announced Tuesday that it had been awarded a $2.45 million grant comes from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to start developing a comprehensive business plan on their way to the construction of a facility.

The grant is part of the EDA’s outreach effort in support of economic development within indigenous communities. The money will be used to conduct a market analysis and feasibility study over the next two years, which would result in a formal business plan to establish a generic pharmaceutical manufacturing operation on the Mashantucket Pequot reservation, focused on developing critical shortage pharmaceuticals. The grant will also support comprehensive STEM workforce development curriculum to help build the knowledge and skills of tribal members interested in pursuing STEM related employment.

EDA has awarded $489 million across 128 grants to projects in indigenous communities using funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

Tribal Chairman Rodney Butler talked about the new direction for the tribe and its potential impact. 

“Over the last few years, we have focused on diversifying our economy by researching industry sectors that demonstrate strong market potential and that insulate our Tribe from economic disruption,” Butler said. “The critical shortage of generic drugs is a national problem as well as a concern throughout Indian Country.”

He continued: “Based on our initial market research, the production of these drugs surfaced as having tremendous potential given our existing pharmaceutical experience, the region’s emerging economic cluster in pharmaceutical manufacturing, and our valued partnerships with healthcare organizations throughout New England.”

The grant was awarded specifically under the Reshoring Essential Medicine Manufacturing at Indigenous Nations (REMIND), a program designed to center on recovery and resilience by increasing the manufacture of critical shortage drugs in the United States.

Drug shortages remain a persistent problem since the disruption of global supply chains during the pandemic. The Food and Drug Administration currently publishes a list on its website of over 100 drugs that are facing shortages, covering medicines used for everything from renal disease to addiction treatments.

“In recent years, the United States has faced challenges in securing critical drugs used to treat a variety of life-threatening diseases,” said Setu Vora, Chief Medical Officer of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. “We’ve completed our preliminary research to determine the overall viability of launching a generic drug production facility, and this EDA investment helps us to move forward with developing a comprehensive business plan. Our goal at the completion of our project is to be truly ‘shovel ready.’  We anticipate creating roughly 75 jobs and capital investment of over $100 million to re-shore manufacturing of critical shortage drugs.”

While the possibility of an increased capacity to produce generic drugs in Connecticut might help to ease some of the drug shortages, it’s not entirely clear yet whether that would translate to lower prices for consumers.

Sean King, Connecticut’s acting Health Care Advocate, explained that the potential market impact of a new pharmaceutical manufacturer depends on several factors, including its production capacity and the selection of drugs the facility will produce.

“So the potential impacts could be minimal or they could be great,” King said in a phone interview Tuesday. “One thing to consider as well is that current pharmaceutical companies try not only to preserve the longevity of their patents but in a way also try to manipulate their market share and maintain their exclusivity by finding ways to deter entrance into the generic market.”






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