NYTimes.com: Drug Making’s Move Abroad Stirs Concerns

From NYTimes.com: Drug Making’s Move Abroad Stirs Concerns

But now experts and lawmakers are growing more and more concerned that the nation is far too reliant on medicine from abroad, and they are calling for a law that would require that certain drugs be made or stockpiled in the United States.

“The lack of regulation around outsourcing is a blind spot that leaves room for supply disruptions, counterfeit medicines, even bioterrorism,” said Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, who has held hearings on the issue.

Decades ago, most pills consumed in the United States were made here. But like other manufacturing operations, drug plants have been moving to Asia because labor, construction, regulatory and environmental costs are lower there.

The critical ingredients for most antibiotics are now made almost exclusively in China and India. The same is true for dozens of other crucial medicines, including the popular allergy medicine prednisone; metformin, for diabetes; and amlodipine, for high blood pressure.

Part of the reason these plants went overseas is that the F.D.A. inspects domestic plants far more often than foreign ones, making production more expensive in the United States.

The short term benefits of outsourcing is clear.  Lower labor costs means lower prices and higher profits for companies.  However, the longer term effects are now starting to show.  We now are reliant on foreign countries that have poor track records on product safety to manufacture drugs that we need.  Plus, China is not exactly an ally.  What happens when there’s a conflict.  Will our dependence on Chinese made goods force us to accept policies that we normally wouldn’t?

I don’t think the public is even clear that many of these drugs are no longer made in the United States.  I think it’s a matter of time before we hear news of some kind of tainted drug.

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