Republican Wisconsin Rep. Mike Gallagher will introduce a bill Thursday banning the federal government from purchasing pharmaceutical products or ingredients from China.
The bill, the Protecting our Pharmaceutical Supply Chain from China Act, was written in response to Chinese COVID-19 lockdowns, as well as the country’s economic aggression, Gallagher told the Daily Caller. China’s COVID-19 lockdowns have already created shortages in several products, including medical devices, and the country recently ordered a new lockdown in the manufacturing and technology hub Shenzhen. (RELATED: ‘Carnage’ Hits Chinese Markets Amid New COVID Surge)
“The Chinese Communist Party has threatened to withhold lifesaving drugs from the U.S. once and we’d be crazy to think they won’t attempt to do so again. Congress needs an aggressive plan to protect our critical pharmaceutical supply chains and end our reliance on China. This is a national security imperative and to many Americans, a matter of life and death,” Gallagher said.
Read the bill here:
In addition to the ban on federal purchases on China-made drugs, the bill instructs the Department of Health and Human Services to create a database of drugs that “are manufactured outside of the United States; and are determined by the Secretary to be critical to the health and safety of consumers in the U.S.” Sixty percent of listed drugs must be purchased outside of China by 2023 and 100% by 2024. Waivers of the country-of-origin requirement can be issued until 2026.
The bill also requires that companies include the manufacturing country of origin on their drug labels.
China controlled the manufacturing of 13% of American pharmaceutical ingredients in 2019, Dr. Janet Woodcock of the Food and Drug Administration testified to Congress. Twenty-eight percent of pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturing at the time was controlled by the U.S., and 26% by European Union countries.
“Most traditional drug production processes require a large factory site, often have environmental liabilities and can utilize a low-cost labor force,” she explained. “China has lower electricity, coal and water costs. Chinese firms are also embedded in a network of raw materials and intermediary suppliers, and so have lower shipping and transaction costs for raw materials.”
China is involved in natural resource extraction worldwide through its Belt and Road Initiative, in which the country grants loans to developing nations in exchange for mineral rights. In the aftermath of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, for instance, China became one of the first countries to recognize the Taliban. Afghanistan’s natural resources could be worth as much as $1 trillion, and has some of the largest lithium deposits in the world.
The state-owned Metallurgical Corp. of China is expected to mine for lithium and copper in Afghanistan. Lithium is a key ingredient in drugs that treat conditions like bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder, while copper is used to treat illnesses like anemia, cholera and dysentery.
China controlled 95% of imported ibuprofen, 91% of imported hydrocortisone, 70% of imported acetaminophen, 40-45% of imported penicillin and 40% of imported heparin in 2018, according to Politico.