News and Commentary

Chinese State-Run Agency Reportedly Threatened China Could Withhold Lifesaving Drugs From U.S. Tom Cotton Has Bill That Would End U.S. Dependency On China.
Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) looks on as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin delivers the annual financial stability report to the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee on January 30, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images

Noting that a Chinese Communist Party state-run media agency  reportedly stated that Beijing could “announce strategic control over medical products and ban exports to the United States. Then, the United States will be caught in the ocean of new coronaviruses,” Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Congressman Mike Gallagher (R-WI) will introduce the Protecting our Pharmaceutical Supply Chain from China Act on Thursday to protect the United States from dependence on China for pharmaceuticals.

Cotton’s website notes that the bill will:

  1. Track active pharmaceutical ingredients through an FDA registry; require the Food and Drug Administration to create a registry of all drugs and corresponding APIs that are produced outside the United States and are determined to be critical to the health and safety of Americans.
  2. Prohibit pharmaceutical purchases from China or products with active pharmaceutical ingredients created in China.
  3. Create transparency in the supply chain by instituting a country of origin label of all imported drugs.
  4. Provide economic incentives for manufacturing drugs and medical equipment in the United States.

Earlier this month, The Independent reported, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) told Fox News of an article in Xinhua, the Chinese state-run media agency, that stated: “If China retaliates against the United States at this time, in addition to announcing a travel ban on the United States, it will also announce strategic control over medical products and ban exports to the United States. Then the United States will be caught in the ocean of new coronaviruses … Also according to the U.S. CDC officials, most of the drugs in the United States are imported…If China banned exports, the United States will fall into the hell of a new coronavirus pneumonia epidemic … We should say righteously that the U.S. owes China an apology, the world owes China a ‘thank you.’”

Cotton stated, “The Chinese Communist Party has threatened to cut off America’s access to vital drugs in the midst of a pandemic caused by its own failures. It’s time to pull America’s supply chains for life-saving medicine out of China and make the CCP pay for contributing to this global emergency.”

Gallagher echoed, “The Chinese Communist Party’s outrageous threats to withhold lifesaving drugs from the U.S. endangers public health and should open our eyes to our dangerous over-reliance on China in our medical supply chain. This is a national security imperative that to many Americans, is a matter of life and death. It’s past time for us to develop an aggressive plan to move critical pharmaceutical supply chains away from China.”

Cotton’s Senate website noted how dependent the United States is on the supply of pharmaceuticals from China:

Today, most active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) used for drugs in the United States are made in China, including 95% of U.S. imports of ibuprofen, 70% of acetaminophen, and 40-45% of Penicillin. This vulnerable state of affairs is due to the Chinese Communist Party having spent a generation cornering this strategic market.

The bill’s text states that none of the actions the bill would implement would require the FDA to divert resources or otherwise slow its response to the coronavirus.