China is Quietly Becoming the World’s Pharmacy — and There Are Big Risks

Cathalijne Adams

Cathalijne Adams Researcher/Writer, AAM

I’ve spent hours researching the health impacts of various vitamins, supplements and medications, weighing the costs and benefits of various options of each... until I end up researching how to cure a headache as well.  

Yet, I’ve neglected researching one major element of my health that you probably have, too – the pharmaceutical and over-the-counter drugs (OTC) that have become so critical to modern health.

I’ve always just assumed that medications and vitamins would be one of the most closely scrutinized and regulated elements under the purview of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Sure, that fish oil supplement may not actually do anything for my heart, but it won’t be detrimental to my health, right? Right!?!

But just this week, the FDA announced a voluntary recall of a generic, commonly prescribed blood pressure medication, Valsartan, that may have been contaminated by the carcinogenic toxin N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA).

All of the Valsartan flagged for recall by the FDA was manufactured in China, which turns out to be the source of most of America’s drugs.

Tragically, this isn’t the first time the FDA has missed contaminates in America’s drug supply. A decade ago, 246 people died in the aftermath of a tainted blood thinner, Heparin, that had also been manufactured in China.

Eighty percent of active ingredients in America’s pharmaceutical and OTC drugs — you know, the stuff that actually makes your medicine work — come from China and India, according to Rosemary Gibson and Janardan Prasad Singh, authors of the new book China RX: Exposing the Risks of America’s Dependence on China for Medicine.

With production so far away, the FDA is understandably challenged in conducting frequent and thorough inspections of drug manufacturing facilities overseas. That makes the need to secure drug manufacturing in the United States all the more imperative.

“The FDA says drugs are safe. But the outsourcing of America’s medicine making is so complex it seems impossible to ensure that they are safe,” Gibson and Singh write.

Many of the drugs that Americans depend upon, including birth control pills, antibiotics like penicillin, vitamin C and even cancer drugs, are made in China with little regulation.

Even more alarmingly, China is aiming to become the world’s pharmacy, part of its “Made in China 2025” industry plan.

As President Donald Trump contemplates opening the way for more imported drugs to enter the United States, it is critical that we think carefully about how to protect America’s drug manufacturing, which Gibson and Signh show has been systemically undercut by Chinese competitors.

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Reposted from AAM

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Alliance for American Manufacturing

Union Matters

Federal Minimum Wage Reaches Disappointing Milestone

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

A disgraceful milestone occurred last Sunday, June 16.

That date officially marked the longest period that the United States has gone without increasing federal the minimum wage.

That means Congress has denied raises for a decade to 1.8 million American workers, that is, those workers who earn $7.25 an hour or less. These 1.8 million Americans have watched in frustration as Congress not only denied them wages increases, but used their tax dollars to raise Congressional pay. They continued to watch in disappointment as the Trump administration failed to keep its promise that the 2017 tax cut law would increase every worker’s pay by $4,000 per year.

More than 12 years ago, in May 2007, Congress passed legislation to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour. It took effect two years later. Congress has failed to act since then, so it has, in effect, now imposed a decade-long wage freeze on the nation’s lowest income workers.

To combat this unjust situation, minimum wage workers could rally and call their lawmakers to demand action, but they’re typically working more than one job just to get by, so few have the energy or patience.

The Economic Policy Institute points out in a recent report on the federal minimum wage that as the cost of living rose over the past 10 years, Congress’ inaction cut the take-home pay of working families.  

At the current dismal rate, full-time workers receiving minimum wage earn $15,080 a year. It was virtually impossible to scrape by on $15,080 a decade ago, let alone support a family. But with the cost of living having risen 18% over that time, the situation now is far worse for the working poor. The current federal minimum wage is not a living wage. And no full-time worker should live in poverty.

While ignoring the needs of low-income workers, members of Congress, who taxpayers pay at least $174,000 a year, are scheduled to receive an automatic $4,500 cost-of-living raise this year. Congress increased its own pay from $169,300 to $174,000 in 2009, in the middle of the Great Recession when low income people across the country were out of work and losing their homes. While Congress has frozen its own pay since then, that’s little consolation to minimum wage workers who take home less than a tenth of Congressional salaries.

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A Friendly Reminder

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