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Why Are We Still Importing Medicine From China?

While most Americans were outraged to discover that the ingredients for nearly all of our generic drugs were manufactured in China, precious little has been done to remedy the issue, though that revelation came about in March 2020, more than two years ago.

On August 6, 2020, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order, aimed at bringing at least some drug manufacturing back to this country. Under the order, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is required to “create a list of medicines, medical countermeasures, and critical inputs that are essential for public health in America.”

While the order gives the FDA 90 days to “identify the list of essential medicines,” it does not require the manufacturing process of those drugs to take place within the United States.

Many of you have likely noticed the ever-growing list of ads on social media platforms from law firms in search of users of the heartburn medication known Zantac. The ads identify several forms of cancer which those who have taken the drug are now experiencing.

In February 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated their announcement on the recall of ranitidine, which is marketed under the brand name Zantac. The drug which is manufactured in China, was found to contain a known cancer-causing ingredient known as NDMA (which is used in rocket fuel and industrial softeners).

But, this is nothing new. Consider:

  • Beginning in 2018, several drugs used to treat high blood pressure and heart ailments were recalled, including Losartan, Valsartan, and Irbesartan, when it was discovered that these drugs also contained NDMA.

  • The list of medications containing the carcinogen was so extensive that the FDA actually created an online list of blood pressure and heart drugs that did not contain the cancer causing agent.

  • In 2008, it was announced that at least 81 Americans died from the effects of taking tainted Heparin (A blood thinner, often prescribed to those with an irregular heart rhythm, to prevent blood clots.) that was manufactured in China.

But, if you get cancer from taking one of the drugs made in China, not to worry – in 2018, more than 30 types of chemotherapy drugs manufactured in China were approved by that nation’s state drug agency.

In July 2019, a man named named Yang Dong was found to be producing counterfeit anti-cancer drugs in his house in Jiangsu Province. He had a tablet press, a pill coating machine, a packaging machine, package cases, and medicine instructions, and was reportedly producing the tablets in his bathroom.

Many of the fake drugs were sold to real cancer patients out of pharmacies in India.

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