China Rx: Exposing the Risks of America's Dependence on China for Medicine

Rosemary Gibson, Janardan Prasad Singh

Prometheus Books, 2018

Agent: Elise Capron

Millions of Americans are taking prescription drugs made in China and don't know it-- and pharmaceutical companies are not eager to tell them. This probing book examines the implications for the quality and availability of vital medicines for consumers.

Several decades ago, penicillin, vitamin C, and many other prescription and over-the-counter products were manufactured in the United States. But with the rise of globalization, antibiotics, antidepressants, birth control pills, blood pressure medicines, cancer drugs, among many others are made in China and sold in the United States. 

China's biggest impact on the US drug supply is making essential ingredients for thousands of medicines found in American homes and used in hospital intensive care units and operating rooms. 

The authors convincingly argue that there are at least two major problems with this scenario. First, it is inherently risky for the United States to become dependent on any one country as a source for vital medicines, especially given the uncertainties of geopolitics. For example, if an altercation in the South China Sea causes military personnel to be wounded, doctors may rely upon medicines with essential ingredients made by the adversary. Second, lapses in safety standards and quality control in Chinese manufacturing are a risk. Citing the concerns of FDA officials and insiders within the pharmaceutical industry, the authors document incidents of illness and death caused by contaminated medications that prompted reform. 

This is a disturbing, well-researched book and a wake-up call for improving the current system of drug supply and manufacturing.

China Rx is a compelling book that reveals America’s troubling dependence on China for essential medicines and the pattern in US-China trade where intellectual property and value-added production are shifted to China to the detriment of U.S. workers, businesses, national security, and the health of our citizens.”
Dan Slane, Commissioner, U.S.-China Economic Security Review Commission

China Rx exposes the scary truth that a great number of prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines in the U.S. have ingredients from China. Import standards should be toughened, pharmaceutical companies required to label a drug’s origins, and dependence on drugs from China reversed.”
Jim Guest, former president, Consumer Reports

“The authors have done a great service by examining America’s dependence on China for essential medicines and how it happened. China Rx is a wake-up call for the public and policymakers to bring drug manufacturing home, safeguard American jobs, and strengthen national security.”
Scott N. Paul, President, Alliance for American Manufacturing