The recent outbreak of coronavirus has revealed the strengths and weaknesses of nations around the world in their handling a serious crisis. Another thing the coronavirus has exposed is the dangerous monopoly China has on the drug manufacturing business and America’s frightening dependency on the communist nation to supply our drugs and medical supplies.
According to Breitbart – America’s biggest concern is over medical supplies. China produces and exports a large number of pharmaceuticals to the U.S., including 97 percent of all antibiotics and 80 percent of the active ingredients used to make drugs here. Penicillin, ibuprofen, and aspirin largely come from China. Last month, the medical supply firm Cardinal Health recalled 2.9 million surgical gowns “cross-contaminated” at a plant in China; the blood pressure drug valsartan also saw shortages recently, thanks to tainted active ingredients at one Chinese plant. The combination of supply chain disruptions and increased demand at hospitals if coronavirus spreads to the U.S. could prove devastating.
In a dark irony, most of the world’s face masks—now ubiquitous in China as a precaution—are made in China and Taiwan, and even for those made elsewhere, some component parts are Chinese-sourced. Shortages have led China to declare the masks a “strategic resource,” reserving them for medical workers. U.S. hospitals are “critically low” on respiratory masks, according to medical-supply middlemen. Lack of protective gear could increase vulnerability to the virus, and the one place on earth suffering from production shutdowns is the one place where most of the protective gear originates.
Puerto Rico used to be the one of the world’s top drug producers before President Bill Clinton stripped them of necessary tax breaks that sent drug production overseas to communist China.
New York Post reports -Though coronavirus has only begun to show up in America, it’s already exposed the nation’s serious over-reliance on China for pharmaceutical production. As Washington looks to address that, it should consider killing two birds with one stone by using the issue as a chance to give Puerto Rico a leg up.
After all, the island was for decades a central hub of US drug manufacturing. It would do the commonwealth and the mainland a world of good to restore that preeminence.
About 90 percent of the active ingredients (manufactured “precursors”) used by US drugmakers now come from China. With that country’s factories largely shut down by the outbreak, America’s pharmaceutical supplies are at risk even as the virus hits here. The Food and Drug Administration fears a shortage of widely used generic drugs.
Moving to ensure some domestic capacity for future crises is a no-brainer. And boosting Puerto Rico, now struggling with a debt crisis plus hurricane and earthquake damage, should be one, too.
In the 1970s, Congress passed tax breaks for companies that set up shop in Puerto Rico. Drugmakers took advantage and soon made the island one of the world’s top pharma-production centers.
But President Bill Clinton signed a law to start phasing out the tax breaks in the 1990s. Once they expired fully in 2006, the industry began a major pullout from the island.
“Not coincidentally,” the Tax Foundation noted in 2015, “2006 marked the beginning of a deep recession for Puerto Rico, which has lasted until today.” That killed tax revenues and led to under-investment in infrastructure, such as the electric grid — which collapsed when Hurricane Maria hit.
Moving drug manufacturing to the struggling island of Puerto Rico would be a win-win for the United States, and more importantly, would strip China of their ability to monopolize the drug manufacturing business. What do you think about moving the drug production business back to cash-strapped Puerto Rico?