Saturday, April 4, 2020

Pinkerton: Tom Cotton's Idea to Insource U.S. Pharmaceuticals Echoes One of Our Great Successes in World War Two

America First—Finally

Much good can come out of World War V (“V” for “Virus,” in the coinage of Silicon Valley techie Balaji Srinivasan).

Yes, we will mourn the loss of life, yes, we will regret the personal and social disruption, and yes, we will have to work hard to restore our economic vitality. And we’ll have to work even harder to restore a proper sense of justice in this country, where the heroes of World War V—the “thin white line,” as well as others who fought to save us—receive a larger share of the rewards and benefits than they have heretofore.

We can do all these things, and more, if we follow the right vision and the right leadership. Indeed, history shows that we can come back stronger than ever—but only if we make the right moves.

For instance, we can start by moving to reclaim our health supply chains from their current dependence—that is, their end points in the People’s Republic of China. It was foolish, in the extreme, for past White Houses and Congresses to let American health companies outsource their production to China. And yet that’s exactly what happened, while Washington, DC, was focused on various Middle Eastern follies.

As a result, today, the U.S. makes pitifully little of what it truly needs—and that’s why we are confronted with humiliating headlines such as this, seen in the March 13 New York Times: “The World Needs Masks. China Makes Them—But Has Been Hoarding Them.” As the article detailed:

China made half the world’s masks before the coronavirus emerged there, and it has expanded production nearly 12-fold since then. But it has claimed mask factory output for itself. Purchases and donations also brought China a big chunk of the world’s supply from elsewhere.

The Times is too polite to come out and say so, but it seems obvious that the Chinese are trying to corner the market on protective face masks—leaving us to wonder why.

Yet now finally, after 30 years of globalist sleepwalking under both Democrats and Republicans, America is starting to wake up. And two of the leading Wide Awakes are Sen. Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, and Rep. Mike Gallagher, Republican of Wisconsin; they have jointly put forth a bill in Congress: The Protecting our Pharmaceutical Supply Chain from China Act.

On March 25, Cotton and Gallagher published an op-ed in which they declared, “Our bill would require federal entities like the Department of Defense, VA hospitals, Medicare and Medicaid to cut off purchases of drugs with Chinese ingredients no later than 2025”—with the idea being that if those huge purchasers of medicines phased out their China purchases, the rest of the U.S. market would follow. In other words, American would independent of China, the country whose propaganda ministry recently crowed that we would “sink into the hell of the novel coronavirus.” In other words, Red China is exactly the sort of country we should not be relying on—for anything.

Still, the Cotton-Gallagher legislation is so upsetting to the globalist order that we should expect half the lobbyists in D.C. to oppose the bill. And yet the problem of our dependence on Big Panda is so severe that it’s likely that the goals of Cotton and Gallagher will be realized, one way or another, soon enough.

To be sure, from the point of view of a well-fed incumbent politician, it’s certainly nice to be funded and lunched by lobbyists and PACs working for globalist clients—and yet for the individual pol, it’s actually nicer to get re-elected. And that suggests movement in the direction pointed to by Cotton and Gallagher. That is, in light of the gathering crises over both corona and China, few politicians will wish to be seen as in the pocket of either the corporate outsourcers or of the Chinese.

According to Cotton and Gallagher, the problem is this:

Today, most active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) used for drugs in the United States are made in China, including 95% of U.S. imports of ibuprofen, 70% of acetaminophen, and 40-45% of penicillin.

Of this litany of outsourced health necessities, the most poignant is penicillin. It was, after all, penicillin that helped us win World War Two. So if we see the Good War as the still-abiding moral heart of the modern-day worker-soldier-first-responder coalition—and we rightly should—then we must study our successes in World War Two, seeking to emulate them whenever possible.


Many people know that penicillin notatum was discovered accidentally, back in 1928, by a British doctor and bacteriologist, Alexander Fleming. It seems that Fleming had absent-mindedly left a piece of bread out in the open, where it grew moldy and thereby contaminated one of his laboratory’s petri dishes. And yet fortunately, Fleming was alert enough to notice that the bread-mold was killing the bacteria around it. As Fleming later wrote:

When I woke up just after dawn on September 28, 1928, I certainly didn’t plan to revolutionize all medicine by discovering the world’s first antibiotic, or bacteria killer. But I guess that was exactly what I did.

Yet the story of penicillin is far more complicated than just a single serendipity of science. Fleming published his findings in 1929, and spent the next half-decade trying to produce penicillin on a larger scale. Yet he was disappointed to realize such production was arduously slow. And so, by 1935, unable to find research help, he had mostly given up on his effort to ramp up production.

1951: British bacteriologist and Nobel laureate Sir Alexander Fleming (1881 - 1955) in his laboratory at the Wright-Fleming Institute, St Mary

British bacteriologist and Nobel laureate Sir Alexander Fleming in his laboratory at the Wright-Fleming Institute, St. Mary’s Hospital, Paddington in 1951. (Baron/Getty Images)

James P. Pinkerton

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