A panel of experts warned of the dangers for the country if the Chinese communist regime continues to increase its capacity as a global supplier of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), reported The Epoch Times.
“As of August 2019, only 28 percent of the manufacturing facilities making APIs to supply the U.S. market were in our country,” said Janet Woodcock, director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), before Congress.
“By contrast, the remaining 72 percent of the API manufacturers supplying the U.S. market were overseas,” she added.
Woodcock also pointed out that within the global market, the current number of Chinese API facilities is still smaller than the United States (13% Chinese compared to 28% American), but its production capacity has not stopped growing over the last decade.
“China has supported its chemical and pharmaceutical sector, driving out of many U.S. lines of production, or out of business altogether,” added Michael R. Wessel, a member of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.
Development and expansion of the Asian giant in the field of APIs
He also explained that the state policies of the Chinese communist regime, such as “Made in China 2025” and the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020), favored the development and expansion of the Asian giant in the field of APIs.
The United States has not only stopped producing drugs like penicillin (the last manufacturing plant closed in 2004), but Beijing is also “luring top U.S. researchers to work for its companies,” Wessel said.
With state recruitment programs like the controversial Thousand Talents, they seek to “meet the goals of the Chinese Communist Party’s plans,” he said.
It should be noted that the purpose of the Thousand Talents Program is to “facilitate the legal and illicit transfer of U.S. technology, intellectual property and know-how” to the communist regime in China, according to the unclassified analysis of the U.S. intelligence service that assesses long-term trends, according to Bloomberg.
Faced with this situation, U.S. companies intensified their investments in the restrictive Chinese health market and caused “further erosion of productive capacities here in the United States” and “the migration of research and development to China,” Wessel continued.
In May, Pfizer became the first international pharmaceutical company to open its headquarters in China, inaugurating the world generic drugs headquarters in Shanghai, months after the Chinese regime announced that it would invest in a “new government procurement plan that would push down generic drug prices and intensify competition in the industry,” Chinese state media reported.
“China could turn its position into weapons”
“China could weaponize its position in the supply chains to our disadvantage and peril,” Wessel stressed.
In the field of generic drugs (legal copies of drugs whose patents expired), India ranks first with 24.5%, while China produces 8.5%, according to official sources cited by The Epoch Times.
However, since 2014 India’s generic industry gets more than 90% of the APIs from the Chinese regime, the Economic Times revealed based on reports.
This makes the supply of generic drugs unreliable because “any deterioration in a relationship with China can potentially result in severe shortages in the supply of essential drugs to the country. Additionally, China could easily increase prices of some of these drugs where it enjoys a virtual monopoly,” said Bart Janssens, a partner in the Boston Consulting Group.
Also, Rosemary Gibson, senior adviser to New York-based nonprofit bioethics research institute The Hastings Center, told Congress that she expects China’s share of the generic market to increase aggressively, as the communist regime openly subsidizes its manufacturers so they can beat their competitors by selling below production costs.
She recalled that this was the same tactic used by the China to take over the worldwide manufacture of antibiotics.
Among many other things, “seniors who take generic antibiotics for pneumonia, and patients in the hospital with life-threatening sepsis are likely dependent on the mercy of China to supply core components,” Gibson said, stating, “China doesn’t have to hack the electric grid or fire a missile to take America down; it can withhold antibiotics and other essential medicines.”
The quality of the drugs
Another potential danger would be the quality of the drugs due to poor regulation and supervision by Chinese manufacturers.
For the past decade, U.S. and European regulators have increased scrutiny of Chinese factories after adulteration of the blood thinner heparin sickened hundreds and killed at least 81 Americans in 2007 and 2008, Reuters reported.
Last month, deficiencies were again revealed in Changsheng Bio-technology’s vaccines for children, and in the diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccines sold by the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products.
In the summer of last year, the FDA also announced that it was taking out of circulation several drugs containing the active ingredient ‘Valsartan’, supplied by Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals of China, used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure.
In September 2018, the FDA recalled all lots containing the thyroid API manufactured by Sichuan Friendly Pharmaceutical Co. Limited. “This API and the drug products made from it, present a safety risk to patients,” the FDA said.
The Corruption of the Chinese Communist Regime
“The problem of [China’s] corruption also impacts the safety of the sector’s products,” Wessel warned Congress Oct. 30.
It is worth mentioning that the former head of the State Food and Drug Administration of the Chinese Communist Party, Zheng Xiaoyu, received a death sentence in 2007 for accepting bribes and approving drugs for sale that eventually killed several people, according to the Financial Times.
In July 2018, the Chinese pharmaceutical company Changsheng Bio-Technology and its subsidiary Changchun Changsheng generated controversy over manufacturing deficient vaccines and trying to hide their error by falsifying production and inspection data, reported Reuters.