Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) called on the United States to rebuild its domestic pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity in order to end China’s monopoly on the drugs Americans rely on.
Blackburn opened her remarks by acknowledging the “gross malfeasance” of China’s communist regime in handling the coronavirus pandemic.
“After we acknowledge Beijing’s gross malfeasance,” Blackburn said, “we’re going to adjust the way we think about China in the context of the economy, of our national defense, technology, human rights, and pharmaceutical manufacturing.”
When you think about it, the fact that Beijing intentionally downplayed the deadly nature of COVID-19 should come as no surprise. For decades … it has been their business to search out our vulnerabilities, exploit those vulnerabilities, and what did they try to do? They tried to use that as leverage against us. So it is time for us to say, “No more.”
Now, here is another component. I’ve talked about in this week on the floor: our pharmaceutical supply chain.
On February 22, 2020, the F.D.A. announced the shortage of a drug used to treat victims of COVID-19. Imagine that, there was a drug shortage. They attributed the shortage of getting the active ingredient in this pharmaceutical. They are called APIs. They couldn’t get it from the site in China which is the site that manufactured it because that site had been affected by COVID-19. So here we are. We need this component to go into a pharmaceutical. We didn’t get it because the factory that produces this has been affected by COVID-19. And it’s not the first time that this has happened.
In 2016, we saw a shortage of an important antibiotic when the sole source of its production — the only place on the globe that produced this antibiotic — was in China, and that factory was shut down, couldn’t get it. Our vulnerability is not limited to one drug or even just a handful of drugs.
In 2007 and 2008, 246 people died after taking a contaminated blood thinner that came directly from a factory in China. They died — 246 people — just like that. Routine inspections didn’t catch the contaminant, and the drugs flowed right into our medicine cabinets.
[In] 2010, regulators also found serious problems with batches of thyroid medication, muscle relaxers, antibiotics, and this week I got an e-mail from a Tennessean. He said, “I saw what you said on the floor, and I want to let you know I take a heart medication, and it was just recalled because it contained a carcinogen and it was made in China.”
Think about this. These are the pharmaceuticals we take to return ourselves to health and wellness, to manage chronic conditions. And here we have example after example of things that are contaminated, are not what they are intended to be. These are basic, common medications.
In 2018, the F.D.A. recalled several blood pressure medications made in China that were contaminated with cancer-causing toxins. Now, I would imagine there are a few people that come to work every day in this building that take a blood pressure medication. What if you had been taking one for a period of time, and it contained the cancer-causing toxins?
Americans deserve better than this from their pharmaceutical supply chain. If we allow this to continue, we are going to do so at our own peril.
I encourage my colleagues to support the bipartisan Securing America’s Medicine Cabinet Act. Sen. Menendez has worked on this legislation with me, and I’m grateful to him for his support. Mr. President, you are working on legislation that would address some of these issues. Bring this pharmaceutical manufacturing back into the United States of America.
We need to end Chinese control over our health and wellness in this pharmaceutical supply chain. This may seem like something that is too large or too risky an undertaking, but we have already paid dearly for our reliance on Chinese drug manufacturers, and it’s not going to stop because that vulnerability is leverage in the hands of madmen in Beijing who seek nothing but power and will go to any lengths to acquire that power. They don’t care who they hurt. It’s clear with this global pandemic. They don’t care if it is innocent people that are sick or maybe even that lose their life. And they defy us, they defy us when we try to stop them.
It’s time that we rise to the challenge and that we return this supply chain.
As Breitbart News reported in February, the coronavirus pandemic has brought increased attention to the United States’ dangerous dependence on China for pharmaceutical and medical supplies, including an estimated 80 percent of the active pharmaceutical ingredients needed to produce drugs in the United States.
The 2019 report of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission notes that China is “the world’s largest producer of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). The United States is heavily dependent on drugs that are either sourced from China or include APIs sourced from China.” The report further explains that although India is the world’s leading supplier of generic drugs, India gets 80 percent of its active pharmaceutical ingredients directly from China. The United States also imports 80 percent of its APIs from overseas (primarily from India and China) and “a substantial portion” of its generic drugs “either directly from China or from third countries like India that use APIs sourced from China.”
In other words, almost all pharmaceutical roads lead to China.
Furthermore, the report notes that China’s dominance of the chemical industry and global manufacturing of active pharmaceutical ingredients means that “the world is becoming increasingly dependent on China as the single source for life-saving drugs.”
China achieved this dominance in the pharmaceutical industry by the same methods it employed to dominate the steel industry – through anti-competitive trade practices that dumped cheap state-subsidized products on foreign markets to drive competitors out of business.
Pharmaceutical industry expert Rosemary Gibson, the author of China Rx: Exposing the Risks of America’s Dependence on China for Medicine, told Breitbart News that the only way to end China’s “global chokehold” on the world’s pharmaceutical supply chains is to actively invest in our own domestic manufacturing through an industrial policy.
“I would have our federal government invest in helping to rebuild our industrial base using advanced manufacturing technology that can produce our medicines much more cheaply, safely, with less environmental footprint, and fully, from soup to nuts from those core raw materials to finished drug in one location all here in the United States,” Gibson said.
Gibson added, “There will be opponents who say, ‘No, we should let the market do it.’ The market will never do this. They’ll never make this investment. So we have to decide as a country, do we want to have some degree of self-sufficiency in our ability to make medicine? Do we want our military not to be dependent on China for pharmaceuticals to treat chemical and biological agents?”
“Some are saying, ‘Let the free market fix it,’” Gibson said. “There is no free market. We wouldn’t allow this for our nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers to operate, because we’d be making them in China. We need to think of our medicines as a strategic asset, not as something cheap that we outsource to a country that has a lot of problems.”
Gibson noted that the ordinary principles of the free market do not apply when dealing with China because the communist regime subsidizes its industries.
“It’s not a free market,” Gibson said. “They cheated [with] subsidies to these Chinese companies, so it’s very hard for any U.S. or western company to compete, because you’re competing not with Chinese companies; you’re competing with the Chinese government.”
Rebecca Mansour is Senior Editor-at-Large for Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Tonight on SiriusXM Patriot channel 125, which broadcasts live weeknights from 9:00 p.m. to midnight Eastern (6-9:00 p.m. Pacific). Follow her on Twitter at @RAMansour.