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Can We End China’s Dominance Over Our Supply of Critical Medicine?

Burdine & Brown May 13, 2020

Senator Tom Cotton, US Senator of Kansas, has introduced legislation in the US Senate to return pharmaceutical manufacturing to the USA. Before the Corona Virus crisis, no one paid much attention to our nation's increasing dependency on the Communist Chinese for our medicine supply. China was and still is producing over 40% of the world's supply of all the ingredients used to make our antibiotics. And, 97% of the US market for antibiotics are produced in China.

Winston Churchill gave a speech in 1934, 5 years before the Nazi armies invaded Poland and Austria in World War II, stating:

“We cannot afford to confide the safety of our country to the passions or to the panic of any foreign nation which may be facing some desperate crisis. We must be independent. We must be free. We must preserve our full latitude and discretion of choice.”

We must end our dependence on the medical supply chain from China (and other foreign countries) for goods that are essential to our national health and security.

Too many politicians of old, from the two Bush Administrations, Clinton and Obama Administration had the view that to bring China into the 21st Century, we had to normalize trade relations with them. What did that really mean? What we did, through our most senior politicians and Presidents, was to send our manufacturing businesses overseas, and to China in particular. Everything is now “made in China”.

When did we forget that the leadership of China are and will remain Communist? When did we decide they could be trusted? When did we decide that they would pursue world peace and engage in appropriate economic trade?

These folks are bound and determined to be the number one force, militarily, politically and economically in the entire world. Their avowed goal is to overtake the USA as the number one superpower in the world by 2050.

So now, we are seeing a growing number in US Senators who are becoming quite vocal with the idea that we must take back our manufacturing plants along with all aspects of our economy, but certainly in the area of pharmaceuticals.

Can legislation solve this critical problem of dependency on the Communist Chinese? Let's take a look at the actual wording of the proposed legislation. Senator Cotton's preamble to this legislation states:

The most active pharmaceutical ingredients used for drugs in the USA are made in China, including 95% of US imports of Ibuprophen, 70% of Acetaminophen, and 40-45% of Penicillin. This intolerable state of affairs is due to the Chinese Communist Party having spent a generation coercing this strategic market.”

The actual language of the bill requires tracking - the idea that the FDA must determine the origins of the drugs produced;

There is a prohibition of purchasing by every federal agency, of any pharmaceutical products produced in China;

This requirement will be phased in over the next 2 years;

Lastly, there will be ways to allow US manufacturing to receive tax incentives for costs associated with manufacturing in the USA.

There will be, no doubt, a boatload of objections to this legislation. And most interestingly, the lobbyists representing Big Pharma will be the most vocal to oppose any change in the current status quo. What is by Pharma you ask? The term is part of Merriam-Webster's dictionary meaning “large pharmaceutical companies considered especially as a politically influential group.” (More on their influence in my next blog on this subject.)

Between 2009 and 2018, according to a Forbes magazine review of the Federal Election Committee filings, over 1.6 million dollars has gone to the campaign committees of 27 out of 28 current members of the US Senate's Finance Committee (that has oversight of Big Pharma issues)

Those senators who have received $100,000 or more:

  • $121,000 Bob Casey (D) Pennsylvania

  • $119,000 Mike Crapo (R ) Idaho

  • $113,000 Rob Portman (R ) Ohio

  • $107,000 Johnny Isakson (R ) Georgia

  • $101,000 Tim Scott (R ) S. Carolina

Will these US Senators join Senator Cotton and support this bill in spite of the rather large donations given to their political re-election campaign committees? We should soon see.