Friday, December 07, 2007

Effing China Everywhere: Part 2

After I wrote yesterday's post on the Christmas cards, I spotted the following AP article on Yahoo! News:

The medicine cabinet in the average U.S. home is filling with drugs made in China, and some experts say that could be a prescription for trouble. China's booming pharmaceutical industry has doubled exports to the U.S. in the past five years, undercutting competitors and making American consumers reliant on the safety of Chinese factories and captive to any disruptions in Sino-U.S. commerce.

It might seem like merely a trade issue. But industry experts in Europe and the United States say national-security concerns are edging into the debate.

Consider this scenario:

If a major anthrax attack were to occur in the United States — larger than the one in 2001, when five people died — pharmaceutical companies that make the two antibiotics most suitable for treatment, Cipro and doxycycline, would have no choice but to rely on China or India for key ingredients once American stockpiles were exhausted. Those ingredients no longer are made in the West.

A Portuguese company that ramped up doxycycline production in 2001 at Washington's request said China now controls the flow of its crucial drug component.

— snip —

This brings up another possible scenario:

"Just suppose you are taking some cholesterol drug, and its intermediates or active ingredients are made in China. Then there's some conflict with Taiwan. Will your drug still be available?" asked Joe Acker , the president of the Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers' Association, a trade group in Washington. "The whole drug supply could be in jeopardy in these kinds of situations."

[My Notation: The USS Kitty Hawk was refused a routine call of port in Hong Kong over Thanksgiving where many sailors were to unite with their families for the holiday. No official explanation was given but likely a response to Washington's plan to sell Taiwan a $940M upgrade to its missile system and a meeting between President Bush and the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist leader whom Beijing considers a traitor.]

— snip —

Bayer, the German health-care giant, held patent protection until 2004 over the antibiotic known as ciprofloxacin, which it marketed as Cipro. That antibiotic now is mass-produced by generic firms, which get a key ingredient, dichloro fluorobenzene, from one of four Chinese companies or two Indian firms.
What the hell is made in America anymore? It's not just about the jobs and economy at this point, it's about ceding control of our country to foreigners...and we're doing it willingly. My brother and I were talking about this and he said, "You know what they say. When they take over the United States, they won't have to fire a shot."

It scares me, and what's worse, there isn't a damn thing I can do.


1 comment:

more cowbell said...

America is always after the quick, easy, cheap solution. We haven't been around long enough to have really learned that doesn't work in the long run. That's why we're more interested in making a quick buck than investing in our society. It shows in everything from the way we build roads and houses to our health care and education systems. This doesn't surprise me, but it does scare me. We're headed in a bad direction ...