The grave risks and dangers in the process of worldwide out-sourcing and so-called globalization of the past 30 years or so are becoming starkly clear as the ongoing health emergency across China threatens vital world supply chains from China to the rest of the world. While much attention is focused on the risks to smartphone components or auto manufacture via supplies of key parts from China or to the breakdown of oil deliveries in the last weeks, there is a danger that will soon become alarmingly clear in terms of global health care system.
If the forced shutdown of China manufacture continues for many weeks longer, the world, could begin to experience shortages or lack of vital medicines and medical supplies. The reason is that over the past two decades much of the production of medicines and medical supplies such as surgical masks have been outsourced to China or simply made in China by Chinese companies at far cheaper prices, forcing Western companies out of business.
Sole source China
According to research and US Congressional hearings, something like 80% of present medicines consumed in the United States are produced in China. This includes Chinese companies and foreign drug companies that have outsourced their drug manufacture in joint ventures with Chinese partners. According to Rosemary Gibson of the Hastings Center bioethics research institute, who authored a book in 2018 on the theme, the dependency is more than alarming.
Gibson cites medical newsletters giving the estimate that today some 80% of all pharmaceutical active ingredients in the USA are made in China. “It’s not just the ingredients. It’s also the chemical precursors, the chemical building blocks used to make the active ingredients. We are dependent on China for the chemical building blocks to make a whole category of antibiotics… known as cephalosporins. They are used in the United States thousands of times every day for people with very serious infections.”
The made in China drugs today include most antibiotics, birth control pills, blood pressure medicines such as valsartan, blood thinners such as heparin, and various cancer drugs. It includes such common medicines as penicillin, ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), and aspirin. The list also includes medications to treat HIV, Alzheimer’s disease,