Security concerns raised as China fills U.S. medicine chest
By Tim Johnson, McClatchy Newspapers
BEIJING â€” The medicine cabinet in the average U.S. home is filling with drugs made in China , and some experts say that could be a prescription for trouble.
China's booming pharmaceutical industry has doubled exports to the United States in the past five years, undercutting competitors and making American consumers reliant on the safety of Chinese factories and captive to any disruptions in Sino-U.S. commerce.
It might seem like merely a trade issue. But industry experts in Europe and the United States say national-security concerns are edging into the debate.
Consider this scenario:
If a major anthrax attack were to occur in the United States â€” larger than the one in 2001, when five people diedâ€” pharmaceutical companies that make the two antibiotics most suitable for treatment, Cipro and doxycycline, would have no choice but to rely on China or India for key ingredients once American stockpiles were exhausted. Those ingredients no longer are made in the West.
A Portuguese company that ramped up doxycycline production in 2001 at Washington's request said China now controlled the flow of its crucial drug component.