‘Big Pharma and its well-heeled swamp creatures’ should stop being divisive, Navarro says

Peter Navarro
Peter Navarro, director of the White House National Trade Council, at the CPAC convention in National Harbor, Maryland, March 1, 2019. The Epoch Times/Samira Bouaou photo

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro slammed Big Pharma’s attempts to send a letter to President Donald Trump opposing a potential “Buy American” executive order.

Trump’s proposed executive order – which aims to reduce dependence on China – will encourage companies to relocate the production of essential medicines, medical equipment and supplies to the United States.

In response to the push by the lobby groups against the executive order, Navarro told The Epoch Times in an email, “America is more than up to that task, and Big Pharma and its well-heeled swamp creatures need to stop being such a divisive element in American politics.”

The Association for Accessible Medicines, a trade group for major pharmaceutical manufacturers such as 3M, drafted a letter dated March 24 to Trump, opposing the plans of reshoring medical supply chains. The draft letter, which was leaked by Spectator USA Magazine, stated that such measures “could undermine the complex arrangements between firms that allow for efficient delivery of medicines to patients.”

The letter, signed by 40 organizations, including PhRMA, a Big Pharma lobbying organization, warned that the proposed plan could harm efforts to supply necessary equipment and medicines to fight the growing pandemic.

“None of the ‘Buy American’ provisions in the proposed executive order would apply during the current COVID-19 crisis,” Navarro said. “That’s a Big Pharma red herring designed to preserve its offshore oligopoly at the expense of American citizens.”

Navarro has been working for weeks on the executive order, which may be released within days. The hope is that increasing government demand for U.S.-made products will help create a market for manufacturers to invest and to produce in the United States.

“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 with the medicines and medical supplies we urgently need from its offshore production during the China virus crisis,” Navarro said.

He said that other countries where the supply chains and plants are located are already imposing export restrictions for critically needed items. So, it’s becoming harder for big pharmaceuticals to bring products to the United States.

“Ten of the top 20 countries exporting medicines to the U.S., including four of the top five, have already imposed some form of restrictions,” he said.

The executive order would ensure that government agencies, including the departments of Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services and Defense, buy American products.

‘National Security Threat’

The CCP virus, commonly referred to as the novel coronavirus, has disrupted the U.S. pharmaceutical industry’s global supply chain that is largely dependent on China, calling attention to a dangerous level of dependence by the United States on this global competitor.

China is the dominant supplier of thousands of medicines found in U.S. homes and hospitals, from antibiotics to chemotherapies, from HIV/AIDS drugs to antidepressants and painkillers.

That’s made the United States vulnerable to supply chain disruptions arising from the pandemic, which has alarmed Congress and the White House.

The increasing dominance of Beijing in the manufacturing of medicine poses a “national security threat” to the United States, Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif., told The Epoch Times.

“We are totally dependent on China – certainly the American military is, the American public equally so,” he said.

The Chinese regime is the major producer of generic drugs – copies of prescription drugs that are allowed for sale after patent protections on the original drugs expire, which account for nearly 90% of pharmaceuticals.

China is also the dominant supplier of personal protective equipment, such as masks, respirators, surgical gowns and gloves, which are currently in high demand.

The Chinese state-run media Global Times published an article March 11, stating that Beijing “could ban the export of face masks and other medical gear to America which are in acute shortage,” over recent actions by the United States to restrict market access to Chinese telecommunications company Huawei.

The United States is “dramatically dependent” on China for medical supplies, according to Rosemary Gibson, a senior adviser at the Hastings Center, a bioethics research institute, and the co-author of “China Rx: Exposing the Risks of America’s Dependence on China for Medicine.”

“Our dependence is a risk to our national security,” she told The Epoch Times. “For prescription drugs, 90% of the core ingredients, the chemicals, and other ingredients depend on China.”

Written by Emel Akan

Bowen Xiao contributed to this report.

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