Dangerous Dependence on China for US Drugs

 In Economy, Foreign

Over the last few days, several articles have appeared in various media revealing that America has a dangerous dependence on China for our drugs. China produces a high percentage of the ingredients for necessary medicines that are used here in the US, and that includes drugs for our military. As an example, at least 80% of the US antibiotic supplies are made in China.

Breitbart reported on Feb 13, 2020:

“The coronavirus outbreak has exposed the United States’ dangerous dependence on China for pharmaceutical and medical supplies, including an estimated 97 percent of all antibiotics and 80 percent of the active pharmaceutical ingredients needed to produce drugs in the United States.”.

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A 2019 Report to Congress stated (API is Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients):

China is a global source of critical generic drugs and pharmaceutical ingredients, as well as health-related products like dietary supplements, biotechnology products, and medical devices. It is also the main source of APIs globally. Even India—the world’s leading supplier of generic drugs—relies on China for 80 percent of its APIs.

  1. The United States sources 80 percent of its APIs from overseas,
  2. and a substantial portion of U.S. generic drug imports come either directly from China or from third countries like India that use APIs sourced from China.
  3.  Drug companies are not required to list the API country of origin on their product labels; therefore, U.S. consumers may be unknowingly accepting risks associated with drugs originating from China.

China’s government has invested significant resources into the development of biotechnology products and genomics research, but has not allocated the same resources toward developing necessary regulatory oversight. As a part of this effort, the Chinese government and affiliated companies and institutions have used licit and
illicit means to accumulate personal and medical data on millions of U.S. persons in the process. China’s government also encourages investments—including mergers and acquisitions, as well as venture capital (VC) investments—in U.S. biotech and health firms, leading
to technology transfer that has enabled the rapid development of China’s domestic industry.

Translation: China has cornered the market on ingredients for important drugs. We need to restart our own drug development. It took a book written by Rosemary Gibson last year called China RX to bring attention to the problem. She stated that within 5-10 years, the US could lose everything in terms of drug manufacturing.

“…the United States is losing its ability to produce generic drugs because Chinese drug companies dumped low-price products into the global market, which in turn pushed U.S., European, and Indian producers out of the generic drug manufacturing business. According to Ms. Gibson, China is seeking to disrupt, dominate, and displace U.S. pharmaceutical and other medical companies, and in doing so limit the United States’ ability to produce its own medicines, including critical antibiotics such as penicillin and even generic aspirin.”  Rosemary Gibson from the report

If the current Coronavirus outbreak makes drug companies outsource their ingredients from the US instead of China, that would be the best possible outcome. For now, the United States is vulnerable to a country that many regard as an enemy. Could they shut down our hospitals by virtue of shutting off the supply of needed drugs?  Hopefully that will never happen.  But is is a concern that more US officials are paying attention to – thanks to a deadly virus.

A Fox Business video from May last year explains:

Featured photo: Screenshot via health issues India

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