Drugs can be manufactured in America more quickly, efficiently, and with better quality control than in China, said Rosemary Gibson, senior adviser at the Hastings Center and author of China Rx: Exposing the Risks of America’s Dependence on China for Medicine, offering her comments in an interview on Tuesday’s edition of SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight with host Rebecca Mansour and special guest host John Hayward.
Gibson explained processes allowing for competitive domestic production of medicines relative to foreign competitors.
“We will have brilliant minds that will be using, for the first time, advanced manufacturing technology to make our basic medicines — these generic drugs — and they’ll make them faster, cheaper, with a smaller environmental footprint, and have real-time quality control,” Gibson said. “We’ll be doing all of that right here in the U.S.A.”
Gibson added, “There’s been a traditional way of making drugs. It’s like making it in batches, like you might make spaghetti sauce in batches, but this is a sort of continuous process that’s been used in the chemical industry for a hundred years.”
Gibson remarked, “In the pharma sector, there hasn’t been the innovation in how medicines are made, and with more of a continuous process, they can be made much faster, and you don’t need such a huge physical infrastructure. You still need large facilities, but you have a smaller facility footprint because the process is so much more efficient.”
Gibson went on, “I’ll give you an example of how this works on a small scale. There’s technology now where — and it’s my lay term — it’s in a washing machine-sized box that these incredible engineers and chemists are making a thousand doses of an antibiotic in a lab in 24 hours, and we have the opportunity, eventually, to take this to scale.”
“This is bringing new advanced manufacturing to a sector that has not invested in it but, with support of public and private sectors, that’s exactly what’s going to happen,” added Gibson.
Gibson estimated, “This is starting a revolution in our country, and I’m hoping that more companies here in the United States will want to step up to the plate. Even better, [Phlow] is a company that is now a public benefit corporation, and it started the process to be a B corporation and that means [the company must] have a social mission [and] make a contribution to society.”
Gibson shared, “I was asked to be an independent unpaid director to ensure that the company fulfills this mission for society. This is not something where we want taxpayers to be gouged on their drugs — this has happened too much in our country — and so it’s great to see people that want to do things for the right reasons.”
On Tuesday, the White House announced its awarding of a $354 million contract with Phlow, a pharmaceutical manufacturer located in Richmond, VA, to manufacture medicines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The federal government’s contract with Phlow includes a partnership with Virginia Commonwealth University and Civica Rx, noted Gibson.
Gibson said, “[Civica Rx] is a non-profit group that is a consortium of about 1,300 hospitals, started by the Mayo Clinic and others. These private hospitals want to buy medicines that aren’t made in China, and so they could be a customer of the products that would be produced in this plant.”
Gibson continued, “So we have the federal government that’s going to be asking these folks to make drugs for the Strategic National Stockpile, and they’ll also be making products for private hospitals in the United States. It’s a great public-private partnership, and I hope more federal agencies will come on board, and I hope that more hospitals and other private sector purchasers of medicines will eventually see the wisdom of buying medicines made in America.”
Gibson explained how China’s mercantilist policies had destroyed much of America’s domestic pharmaceutical production.
“We opened up free trade with China in 2000,” stated Gibson, “and within a couple of years of that free trade agreement with China being signed, that’s when the last penicillin plant in the U.S. closed. That’s when the last aspirin plant closed. We can’t make it anymore. The last vitamin C plant closed.”
Gibson went on, “Bad trade deals, and China came in and cheated. They dumped [drugs] at below-market prices. They kept them low for several years, and they drove out American business as you can’t compete. If you and I want to set up a business tomorrow to make medicines, China could come in the next day and undercut us and drive us out of business.”
Contracts between domestic drug manufacturers and large institutional purchasers of medicines are the ideal strategy to restore U.S. pharmaceutical production and counter China’s predatory pricing, determined Gibson.
U.S.-based drug companies need “contracts with the government [and] with hospitals that lock in a fair price,” concluded Gibson, “not too low so we can’t keep our machines running properly, but not too high to gouge taxpayers and the public. Those long-term contracts [provide] an agreement that we’re going to work together to supply quality medicine. Once you have those, China can’t undercut those.”
A restoration of domestic generic drug manufacturing would create “hundreds of thousands of good-paying STEM jobs,” added Gibson.
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