Rosemary Gibson, a senior advisor at the Hastings Center and researcher and lecturer of public health and policy, has a grim warning for America: China is trying to dominate national healthcare. Per Fox Business, the author has recently come out with a book, China Rx, which details the consequences of a Chinese monopoly on medicine.
“China’s aim is to disrupt, to dominate and displace American companies and harm our ability to make our own medicines,” Gibson argues. “We are losing control over the supply of our medicines, and that’s not an exaggeration. And when we lose control, we lose control over price.”
Another frightening aspect of Chinese growth in the medicine field is the lack of quality control. Gibson gave an example where there was a massive recall of Chinese blood pressure medication due to the presence of excess carcinogens. When tested, the pills contained a staggering 200 times the acceptable level.
Gibson also points out the strategic disadvantage of having a Chinese monopoly on medicine. She draws on historical parallels, like how food has often been used as a weapon to sway populations into submission, or has had catastrophic effects during natural disasters. She argues that medicine will have the same power, per Real Clear Politics.
“What happens if we have a Fukushima type event or the trade routes are blocked in the South China Sea? Or if there’s a global pandemic? And the United States and virtually every other country in the world is dependent on a few companies in China for the ingredients to make critical antibiotics.”
Gibson also gave a specific example of a medicine that is already dominated by the Chinese market: Cephalosporin, which treats illnesses such as pneumonia, bronchitis, and strep throat. China has nearly total control of the raw materials needed to make the medicine. Gibson reports that should China decide to end American supply, perhaps as a result of a trade war, the United States would only have available what is currently stocked in pharmacies.
An even more serious drug on which the United States is dependent on China is Doxycycline, the antidote for anthrax, per the Military Officers Association of America.
Gibson hopes that threats of Chinese manipulation of American healthcare will help spur the government to action. Pointing to the example of how oil is tracked by the Department of Energy, Gibson hopes that Congress would consider creating an interagency task force that can track global supply and demand of different medications, so that medication can never be used as a tool of global politics or warfare.