Photo: M M via FlickrLive poultry market in Xining, China.
Ongoing trade tensions between the U.S. and China are having an impact on the global economy and potentially U.S. biosecurity.
Late in the summer of 2018, New York Times reporter Emily Baumgaertner authored a story breaking the news that China had stopped providing samples of a flu virus – named H7N9 – with U.S. health authorities. The H7N9 bird flu [the influenza virus is named with H’s and N’s based on their protein makeup] has been circulating in China since 2013 and has spread through poultry farms. Continue reading
Bloomberg News reports that pharmaceutical companies in China are poaching thousands of trained physicians, many of them recent grads, to become sales representatives in the massive push to take advantage of China’s exploding drug market. The companies can offer salaries that are two to three times those the physicians would earn otherwise, and Bloomberg’s sources estimate that as many as 14,000 more Chinese doctors will become marketers in the coming five years.
The hiring boom is hampering China’s three-year, $131 billion effort to stem a massive shortage of doctors in rural and peripheral areas and provide basic health insurance to at least 90 percent of the population. Paradoxically, it’s that same push, and the demand for drugs that it has created, that’s providing the incentive for big pharma’s Chinese campaigns. One pharmaceutical representative told Bloomberg that China is expected to overtake the United States as his company’s largest market within the decade, and companies have been budgeting accordingly.
Foreign drugmakers like Sanofi and their local affiliates will hire at least 35,000 sales staff by the end of 2014, Aon Hewitt China estimates, based on a survey of 24 companies. The same employers had 33,000 on staff at the end of 2010. About 30 to 40 percent of people recruited for sales jobs will have a medical degree, said Jarroad Zhang, a consulting director with Aon Hewitt in Shanghai.
Following a series of crises involving food and drug products imported from China, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is opening offices in Beijing, Guangzhou and Shangai this week.
Two recent articles about the safety of imports from China and the FDA’s lack of oversight provide some background:
- Time: Heparin’s deadly side effects – Reporter Bill Powell follows the manufacturing process of heparin in China, noting that “It is jarring to see where a drug like heparin begins.”
- The New York Times Magazine: The safety gap – Gardiner Harris says he has “rarely written about a subject that both branded and generic drug makers wanted to discuss less.”