China is raising the threat of cutting off drugs to the United States unless it receives what it considers to be the proper thanks for what it claims is the heroic role it played in fighting the coronavirus.
The threat is contained in an article in Xinhua, China’s state-run media agency, according to Fox News.
“We should say righteously that the U.S. owes China an apology, the world owes China a thank you,” an editorial in Xinhua read.
“As a responsible major country, China has also from the start acted openly and transparently in releasing relevant information to the world and seeking international cooperation to prevent the spread of the epidemic worldwide,” the article said.
The Chinese-language editorial, though, said China could impose controls on the export of medicine, plunging the U.S. into “the mighty sea of coronavirus.”
China’s bluster comes as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, without naming the drug, said that it has identified the first drug shortage related to the virus, Fox reported.
China’s hammerlock on the U.S. pharmaceutical trade was decried by Rosemary Gibson of the Hastings Center, a bioethics think tank, during testimony last year to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.
“National health security and national security are threatened by U.S. dependence on China for thousands of ingredients and raw materials to make our medicines. China’s aim is to become the pharmacy to the world, and it is on track to achieve it. China’s dominance is global,” she said.
Gibson is a co-author of “China Rx: Exposing the Risks of America’s Dependence on China for Medicine.”
She said that China has already shown it can flex its muscles when it chooses.
“As China gains more control over America’s supply of medicines, it could charge American consumers and patients higher prices, or extort concessions from the federal government to keep prices affordable,” she said. “This is not mere speculation. China’s domestic companies formed a vitamin C cartel in the early 2000s and increased prices up to 600 percent, which increased the cost to American consumers and businesses.”
“The nation’s health security is in jeopardy. The U.S. can no longer make penicillin. The last U.S. penicillin fermentation plant closed in 2004. Industry data reveal that Chinese companies formed a cartel, colluded to sell product on the global market at below market price, and drove all U.S. European, and Indian producers out of business. Once they gained dominant global market share, prices increased.”
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said the possibility of China extorting leverage is very real.
“They could trigger a domestic problem here that would make it difficult or us to confront them,” Rubio told Fox on Thursday.
At yesterday’s lunch I asked @POTUS to support our efforts to invest in diversifying our supply chain, especially in pharmaceuticals & medical equipment.
He agreed & his team led by by Peter Navarro are also working on an EO to help address this. https://t.co/WlX7u158rV
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) March 11, 2020
Gibson said the current situation is a national security risk.
“Medicines in the hands of an adversary can be weaponized,” she said.
“Supplies can be withheld. Medicines can be made with lethal contaminants or sold without any real medicine in them, rendering them ineffective. These products can be distributed to specific targets. Detection is time-consuming at best, and virtually impossible at worst.”
“The thousands of men and women on U.S. aircraft carriers in the South China Sea are dependent on the adversary for many of their essential medicines,” Gibson added.
“Combat readiness and force protection are at risk with the military vulnerable to disruptions in supply and contaminated and toxic medicines. In 2018, more than 31,000 active duty military personnel, veterans, and their family members were notified they may have been given blood pressure medicines containing a cancer-causing ingredient.”
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