Just Say NO – Why We Need The Cotton/Gallagher Act

  • Ninety-three percent of all ibuprofen used in the United States comes from China.
  • Ninety-seven percent of all antibiotics used in the United States come from China..
  • The last penicillin plant in the United States closed well over a decade ago.

China is the world’s largest producer of bulk drugs and nutritional supplements, and it exports a very large proportion of its production to the United States.

Most of the drugs produced in China are manufactured under sub-standard conditions without effective regulation by either Chinese or American authorities.

Seventy percent of the heparin, a blood thinner, used in the United States every year comes from China. Tainted Chinese heparin killed 81 Americans in 2008.

In 2019 a whole range of blood pressure medications made in China were recalled after they were found to contain a cancer-causing substance used in rocket fuel.

Concerned? Think maybe at a time when we are desperately trying to cope with a worldwide pandemic that it might be a bad idea to rely upon the same guys who bungled the initial response and lied to the world to sell us meds? Wonder why in the name of God we would be pumping drugs made in some sweatshop in China into the veins of American citizens?

So do Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Congressman Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin. They have just introduced legislation to address these and other issues and to get us out of a position of dependence on the Chinese Communist Party for life-saving medications. The bill, entitled the Protecting our Pharmaceutical Supply Chain from China Act would end U.S. dependence on China for pharmaceutical manufacturing. The bill would go into effect in 2022 and would:

  • -Track active pharmaceutical ingredients through an FDA registry.
  • – Prohibit pharmaceutical purchases from China or products with active pharmaceutical ingredients created in China.
  • – Create transparency in the supply chain by instituting a country of origin label for all imported drugs.
  • – Provide economic incentives for manufacturing drugs and medical equipment in the United States.

There hardly seems like there could be any real controversy about the wisdom of the measure. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has, in fact, openly threatened recently to cut off all American access to vital drugs needed to fight the coronavirus. This is not a case of imagining what might happen in an emergency situation. We are face to face with a true crisis, and we are dependent on an increasingly hostile totalitarian regime to keep our people alive.

And yet, there will be controversy, because any change in the status quo will mean a lot of people invested in the current system will lose a lot of money.

The bill introduced by Cotton and Gallagher comes on the heels of an earlier executive order issued by President Trump. That order directed federal agencies to attempt to buy American in purchasing items for medical supply chains. A whole host of major drug companies, the Association for Accessible Medicines (AAM) and PhRMA a Big Pharma lobbying organization have already weighed in opposing any such effort. In a letter to President Trump some forty signatories, all representing the pharmaceutical industry, warned that the President’s “Buy American” order would “undermine the complex arrangements between firms that allow for efficient delivery of medicines to patients.” The letter went on to tout the benefits of “global supply chains” that had been “built over decades.”

President Trump’s trade advisor, Peter Navarro, had perhaps the best, most direct response to Big Pharma’s complaints. “The global Big Pharma lobby which has moved all of our production offshore is now lying about an executive order they haven’t read, and which explicitly exempts Buy American provisions during the current China virus crisis and any period of national emergency,’ Navarro told CNBC. “Nothing in the order will prevent us from getting what we need, when we need it, and from wherever we need it.” Navarro went on to say that the current lobbying efforts against the order were a “desperate attempt” by pharmaceutical companies to keep production offshore and to “preserve its offshore oligopoly”.

Big Pharma’s reaction to the President’s executive order and its certain opposition to Cotton and Gallagher’s attempt to codify a “Buy American” ethos, goes to the heart of the challenge we will face in reshoring our industry and cutting ourselves away from our self-destructive economic relationship with Communist China. A great many Americans and “American” corporations have gotten filthy rich off of closing factories here and opening sweatshop operations in the totalitarian wonderland that is the People’s Republic of China.

In China, workers can’t strike. No one who matters really cares what you dump in the water or spew into the air. Maimed or killed employees are easily replaced, and workplace safety is a concept not yet discovered.

Factory towns all over America may have dried up and hit hard times, but the owners of the corporations that used to produce there are not on welfare or working part-time jobs. They are richer than ever on the profits made from operations located in Communist China. Those owners, richer now than ever before in history, may be fine with halftime displays of patriotism and pro forma flag-waving, but their real allegiance is to the almighty dollar and not the flag.

It will take a national act of will to break free of the pull of continued economic entanglement with Communist China. The lure of profits, like the high from a drug, is a powerful force. Time to break the addiction, or as Nancy Reagan would say, to “just say no” to reliance on China for anything, most especially the medicine we need to keep our people alive.