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‘Swamp Creatures’ Attack Effort to Make Medicines American Again

Big Pharma sends phalanx of lobbyists out to kill a measure that would reduce dependency on China. Classic.

Chinese workers watch the production line of pill capsules at the Tongrentang factory in Beijing. August 2007, after a string of health scandals surrounding Chinese-made goods. (TEH ENG KOON/AFP via Getty Images)

If there was any example of how colossal moneyed interests work against the health of the nation look no further than the campaign Big Pharma has launched against a measure that would redirect the manufacture of medicines back to the United States. 

According to Peter Navarro, Trump’s top trade representative, Big Pharma has been the main obstacle to getting an executive order that he crafted signed by President Trump. At a time when the country is experiencing mounting shortages of medicine and supplies and a bill has come due for all of the off-shoring of our pharmaceuticals, particularly our generic medicines, the order would endeavor to begin re-balance the supply channels by streamlining regulatory approvals for “American-made” products and encourage the U.S. government, including the Department of Defense, Department of Health and Human Services, and Department of Veterans Affairs, to only buy American-made medical products.

But in a fear campaign launched over the last two weeks, Big Pharma has seeded doubts by insinuating that the EO would obstruct the flow of much needed medicines and equipment right now during the current public health crisis. Spectator USA Washington Editor Amber Athey obtained a letter sent to the president by the Big Pharma trade group,the Association for Accessible Medicines (AAM), which has 40 signatories. In it, the group says that the current supply chains have “been built over decades and include appropriate safeguards to ensure safety and efficacy of products.” (We know from excellent reporting by Rosemary Gibson that this is wholly untrue.)

Furthermore, the AAM letter warns that the measures in the EO “would destabilize the pharmaceutical supply chain at the worst possible moment for patients and the providers caring for them.” It would, in effect, “undermine the complex arrangements between firms that allow for efficient delivery of medicines to patients.”

Athey reached out to Navarro and got this response:

‘None of the Buy American provisions in the proposed Executive Order would apply during the current COVID-19 crisis,’ he explained. ‘That’s a Big Pharma red herring designed to preserve its offshore oligopoly at the expense of American citizens.’

Furthermore:

‘If this crisis teaches us anything at all, it is that we cannot rely on Big Pharma, which is renown already for its price gouging, to provide America during the China virus crisis with the medicines and medical supplies we urgently need from its offshored production. 

‘Even if Big Pharma’s offshore operations want to send America what we urgently need, the foreign governments of the countries where their supply chains and plants are located are already forbidding the export of critically needed items. Ten of the top 20 countries exporting medicines to the US, including four of the top five, have already imposed some form of restrictions.’ …

…Big Pharma and its well-heeled Swamp Creatures need to stop being such a divisive element in American politics.’

On one hand we should thank AAM and the lobbying goliath PhRMA, which represents the world’s major pharmaceutical companies (think  Bristol-Myers Squibb, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson) for stripping away the veneer of special interests in this time of crisis. The pharma/health products industry continues to spend more on Capitol Hill influence operations—a record-breaking $228 million in 2019 alone—than anyone else. There is a lot of stake here, and we’ll be damned, literally, if they lose market share or profits. We know where they stand now.

During this global pandemic when countries are scrambling for the same vital medicines, special interests in the U.S. are actively lobbying against America being self-sufficient and for continuing our dependence on China,” said Gibson said in a Saturday email to TAC. 

The author of the book China Rx,  Gibson just testified on the Hill in support of Navarro’s efforts. 

“Meanwhile China issued a chilling threat to withhold medicines from the U.S. Yet the same special interests want our military and their families to depend on China for their medicines,” she added.

“One day we will look back on this and regret our failure to care for our own.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

about the author

Kelley Beaucar Vlahos, executive editor, has been writing for TAC since 2007, focusing on national security, foreign policy, civil liberties and domestic politics. She served for 15 years as a Washington bureau reporter for FoxNews.com, and at WTOP News in Washington from 2013-2017 as a writer, digital editor and social media strategist. She has also worked as a beat reporter at Bridge News financial wire (now part of Reuters) and Homeland Security Today, and as a regular contributor at Antiwar.com. A native Nutmegger, she got her start in Connecticut newspapers, but now resides with her family in Arlington, Va.

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