Experts: EU Overly Dependent On Medicines From China

« We must definitely change something: the economy of Germany and the European Union cannot continue to remain so dependent on China. » This was one of the main lessons that German politicians, businessmen, and economists have already learned from the coronavirus pandemic.

It began with a shortage of face masks and disinfectants. “Many production facilities have been transferred to Asia. But the fact that this would compromise the security of supply chains is unacceptable,” says Ralph Brinkhaus, chairman of the parliamentary faction of the German block of CDU/CSU that is part of the ruling coalition.

The Federal Institute of Medicines and Medical Products in Bonn (BfArM) in February studied the question of how many ready-made medicines or substances for the manufacture of medicines Germany receives from only the Chinese province of Hubei, whose capital Wuhan has become the epicenter of the epidemic. The number was 153. Of these, 11 active substances are included in the list of vital or most important drugs (not counting vaccines)in Germany.

The department’s message of February 27 emphasized that at that time no information had been received about short-term interruptions in the supply of these drugs or active substances to the Federal Republic of Germany or the European Union. However, on March 3, the Indian government restrictedexport of 26 active substances and drugs, including painkiller and antipyretic drugs paracetamol, as well as a number of antibiotics. They account for 10 percent of all Indian drug exports.

Then, the German society learned from media reports that India, firstly, is the world’s largest supplier of generics. This is the name of cheap unpatented copies of more expensive original drugs, the active substances of which have expired patent protection. And secondly, that the Indian pharmaceutical industry again receives about 70 percent of the substances for its generics from China, including from the same province of Hubei.

An urgent call to return the production of drugs to Europe was made by the IG BCE union, which includes, in particular, workers in the German chemical and pharmaceutical industry. Its chairman Michael Vassiliadis called the dependence on a small number of suppliers in China and India, which Germany and Europe had in previous years, dangerous.

According to him, the emergence of the Sars-CoV-2 virus in Hubei Province and the restriction of exports from India are « alarm signals from which our politicians should startle. » « The lesson from the current crisis should be this: identify the most important active ingredients and the degree of dependence, return production to Germany and the EU, ensure security of supply and good jobs, » the union leader said.


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