Rosemary Gibson, author of China Rx: Exposing the Risks of America’s Dependence on China for Medicine, called for the federal government to restore and protect the domestic manufacturing of medicines and medical supplies as a “strategic national asset.”
In an interview on Friday’s edition of SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight with host Rebecca Mansour and special guest host Ed Martin, Gibson warned that China’s growing control of global manufacturing of medicines and medical products is a threat to America’s national security.
She explained that the communist regime’s economic strategy is to collapse American medical manufacturing to establish a monopoly on a vital asset. The coronavirus outbreak has exposed the danger of China’s monopoly power and provided an opportunity for the United States to renew domestic production of medicines and medical supplies, Gibson said.
“We have to use this moment in time where we are all on alert to bring [back] a basic level of manufacturing critical medicines here in the United States, and there are good people who are emerging,” Gibson stated. “We have tremendous talent in this country, people who can make medicines and do it for the right reasons, and with new technology we can actually make our generic drugs cheaper than the way we do now. We have less environmental footprint. So, I hope we can get that going.”
Gibson added, “I’m hoping that we can get some traction on that to bring some of this manufacturing back home.”
Congress’s coronavirus emergency relief bill does not appropriate funds for stimulating domestic manufacturing of medicines or medical supplies, Gibson noted.
“The 8.3 billion dollar coronavirus supplemental package that was passed by Congress and signed by the president had funding for vaccines, which would prevent people from getting coronavirus,” Gibson highlighted. “It had money for research for therapies to cure coronavirus, but there was no money in that package to begin to manufacture critical medicines that are needed to treat people if they’re hospitalized with serious coronavirus, which thankfully, is a very small percentage of people. These are the medicines that we need to treat seriously ill people who are hospitalized, whether it’s coronavirus or something else.”
Mansour asked what government policies would correct America’s vulnerability to its dependence on Chinese exports of medicines and medical goods.
Gibson replied, “When we think of our pharmaceuticals we think of the brand name drugs, the ones that are advertised on television, [but] they’re only 10 percent of the medicines that people take. The vast majority — 90 percent of the medicines we take — are generic and they have a lot thinner [profit] margins.”
Gibson noted the damage to Western manufacturers of generic medicines wrought by China’s mercantilism.
“Western generic drug companies are dropping like flies,” Gibson explained. “They are collapsing. There was Mylan, which was a very large generic company headquartered in Morgantown, West Virginia. Last year they merged with Pfizer, and Pfizer, in 2019, announced the opening of its global generic headquarters in China.
Gibson continued, “There are two other large Western generic drug companies, Sandoz and Teva. Santoz is a European company [and] Teva is an Israeli company, and they announced last year that they’re dropping half their products because they’re they just can’t compete with China, and so if you look at a shortage list which the FDA keeps, there are so many basic medicines that are discontinued [and] no longer produced by those manufacturers.”
Gibson went on, “When people say, ‘Well, the pharmaceutical industry can fix this,’ big pharma is not going to fix this, and the generic industry just is just collapsing. What we can do is [assist] small businesses with tremendously talented people that are prepared to make generic drugs here in the United States to ramp up quickly and to meet the needs of the Department of Defense, the VA, [and] the strategic national stockpile.”
Government procurement can provide domestic medical manufacturing companies the certainty they need to renew production of medicines, Gibson remarked.
“It isn’t going to happen overnight, but they’re eager to get going, and we need to make investments in those companies,” Gibson said. “[Government agencies] need to have long-term contracts with these firms. One of the reasons we don’t have masks is, for manufacturers, it’s feast or famine. So now it’s feast, because there are millions and millions of dollars going out to make masks, but when coronavirus is over and demand drops off, you have to shut down your plant, fire people, and then when another situation hits we’re unprepared, we don’t have the manufacturing capability.”
Gibson went on, “When it comes to medicine — these are medicines that are used in hospitals every day — just have long-term contracts, pay them a fair price, and we won’t have shortages. So that’s what we can do, and what Congress can do is authorize the Department of Health and Human Services and the DOD and the VA to buy American. The White House has announced it wants to come out with an executive order for buy American, and that would be great for our medicines.”
“It’s not going to get better, and if we don’t wake up to this, I’m not sure what we’ll wake up to,” estimated Gibson. “We have a moment in time and your listeners should you know call their members of Congress and say, ‘We need to bring our medicine making back home, because China is threatening the United States.'”
Gibson stated, “This is not the first time China has threatened the U.S. government. There was a situation a number of years ago where the Chinese government did threaten the federal government with drug shortages if the U.S. government didn’t do what it wanted.”
China’s growing control of medical manufacturing is a grave threat to American welfare, Gibson determined.
“We have a choice to make as a country, and policymakers in Washington — if we can cut through all the noise — have to lead us down a path: either the strategic decision to invest in making essential medicine here at home, or face serious consequences about our survivability as a country. If we don’t have antibiotics to treat infectious disease, it’ll make the coronavirus look like something that was small potatoes.”
Amid the coronavirus outbreak, the FDA halted inspections of Chinese manufacturing facilities for medicines. Mansour asked Gibson to explain the implications of this decision.
“What the FDA does is they go into every manufacturing plant that makes our medicines,” Gibson explained. “They inspect them for what’s called good manufacturing practices, and that’s a really important thing to do. It’s not a perfect guarantee, but you get an understanding of whether the medicines are being made according to very precise specifications. The FDA has withdrawn its employees from China because of coronavirus, and from other countries, say in Europe, where there are a number of manufacturing plants, also because of concerns about coronavirus.”
The FDA’s suspension of food and medical inspections in China and Europe is “about the health and safety of federal employees,” added Gibson.
China’s increasing control over global production of medicines and medical wares is usurping the FDA’s capacity to protect Americans, Gibson cautioned.
“I think what we’re seeing with the FDA in China is really the beginning of the end of the FDA in China,” Gibson speculated. “It’s going to take a long time before any FDA employee will want to go there. Bear in mind that these are dedicated federal employees, and they volunteer for those jobs to travel to China to do inspections. They can’t be required. … They have to volunteer. Who would want to volunteer for the foreseeable future to go there?”
Gibson continued, “The other challenge that arises is that if you’re a federal employee, an inspector in a plant, and you see problems and you write up your inspection report — these are very thorough, very technical high-quality inspection reports — and If you point out serious deficiencies that will result or could result in the ban of those products coming in from to the United States, will the Chinese government want to give you another visa to come back to do an inspection? Imagine the pressure that you’re under.”
Gibson added, “I also think the FDA is losing leverage in China, because as they make more and more of our generic drugs — China makes nine percent of our generic drugs, and that’s just happened in 10 years, and they’re ramping up quickly — at some point China is going to say, ‘Well, take it or leave it. We’ll do our own inspections, and we know you don’t have any alternatives, America. This is what we’re selling, and we’re not going to have your inspectors come here. We can do it ourselves,’ and we’ll have no choice.”
The coronavirus threat presents an opportunity for American to strengthen in self-sufficiency, Gibson observed.
“In many ways, this coronavirus –and these threats from China — is a gift to us if we choose to take it that way,” determined Gibson. “This motivates us to diversify our manufacturing supply chain out of China and to bring some of it home.”
Hundreds of medicines were already in shortage across America prior to the coronavirus outbreak, Gibson shared.
“I was at a hospital last week, and they had antibiotics that they couldn’t get and others that — the term is — on allocation,” recalled Gibson. “That means they’re rationing them. I spoke to an EMS worker — a volunteer — on an ambulance in a community, and this person is also a pharmacist, and the pharmacist said, ‘We don’t have epinephrine on our ambulance,’ and that is used to revise people if their blood pressure plummets too low, and I said, ‘What do you do? And reply was, ‘Well, we just try to drive faster to the hospital.’ Again, this is not because of coronavirus. This has been going on for some time and we have these shortages because the supply chain is so narrowed into a handful of countries, with China being dominant.”
“Our manufacturing base in Europe and the United States is just been falling apart,” Gibson added. “This is why we have shortages. Imagine if the world had 80 percent of its oil supplied by one country, whatever it is. Of course we would have problems in distribution and making sure everybody had enough gas to go around the world to go where they wanted to go in their cars. So we have to we must bring this home, and if this isn’t a lesson, I don’t know what is.”
Industrial policy is needed to correct America’s vulnerability to China on medical supplies, said Gibson, describing free market solutions as unfeasible given China’s mercantilism.
Gibson remarked, “There are some people who still don’t believe it’s a problem, regrettably, on Capitol Hill. They say the free market will fix this. There is no free market. There’s no free market because American and other Western companies are competing not with Chinese companies, they’re competing with the Chinese government which subsidizes its own firms.”
Gibson added, “We cannot outrun China’s industrial policy. Our federal government has to get involved to help invest in infrastructure, and with new manufacturing technology, we can actually make our drugs cheaper if we’re to invest anything, and those should be national security assets. You just can’t sell them to a company or to the highest bidder or let alone, turn around two years from now, and sell them for a billion dollars to the Chinese government. We can’t do that. We have to really treat these as a strategic national asset.”
Gibson advised, “We have to protect these assets that we’re investing in in the United States. And how do we do that? There’s a capability within the Department of Health and Human Services called the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, and they know how to do contracts and public-private partnerships, and part of those contracts need to be, ‘You can’t sell this to a strategic competitor, country, or company.’ There have to be some stipulations to assure that this really is a national security asset.”
Mansour asked how medical imports from China are inspected for safety given the FDA’s suspension of inspections in the one-party state during the coronavirus outbreak.
“One of the biggest solutions is that every batch of every medicine has to be tested to ensure that it is what it’s supposed to be, to test for contaminants, to test that the active ingredient is fully there, [and] that the medicine is supposed to be the way it dissolves properly in the body,” replied Gibson.
Gibson added, “We need just to ramp up that testing. We should be doing it anyway, because more than 10 percent of generic drugs tested by an independent group in Connecticut found that more than 10 percent wasn’t what the generic should have been.”
Gibson praised Breitbart News for reporting on China’s increasing control of medical production, concluding, “We have a great opportunity to fix it, and there’s great people in this country that do want to fix it.”
On Monday, President Trump’s trade advisor Peter Navarro told CNBC’s Squawk Box that he is drafting an executive order for President Trump to sign aimed at reducing the U.S. dependency on foreign medical supply chains.
“As we speak, I’m bringing an executive order to the president. He personally asked me to move quickly on this issue. The essence of the executive order, which we hope to get to the finish line by the end of the week, is to bring all of that home, so we don’t have to worry about foreign dependency. Seventy percent of our advanced pharmaceutical ingredients comes from abroad,” Navarro said.
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