China has dominated the antibiotic supply chain for decades. Their abundance of resources and lack of labor law make the country ideal for cheap production of drugs, resulting in larger profits.
Rosemary Gibson, an expert on the subject and author of “China Rx,” joined the AWF Union Podcast to discuss how China has become a leading producer of the drugs, how the U.S. can bring manufacturing of drugs back on shore and more.
Antibiotics supply chain
Gibson said the U.S. can no longer manufacture the materials needed to develop over the counter drugs like penicillin and other antibiotics. This has resulted in the U.S. relying on China for basic drug manufacturing.
China has unfortunately used some questionable practices to rise to the top of the manufacturing chain. Despite being able to manufacture the drugs for cheap and sell them at a reasonable price, China has decided to price gouge the drugs and charge unfair amounts.
Chinese companies began producing at prices that American companies could not compete with. While workers in the U.S. were making decent wages and working in fair conditions, Chinese workers labor for very little, often in unsafe conditions.
Gibson said the U.S. needs to reshore manufacturing of these drugs. Seniors and other Americans deserve to be able to afford drugs.
FDA regulation of imported drugs
Gibson said the Food and Drug Administration has not inspected a Chinese factory in over a year. These checks used to be annual to ensure American consumers were getting a quality product. Now the U.S. is essentially importing drugs that have not faced scrutiny during the manufacturing process.
Reshoring the supply chain for drugs would make it easier for the FDA to control and regulate the medicines. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused U.S. officials to begin conducting virtual inspections of the Chinese facilities.