Issues with Manufacturing Drugs in Our Society
Chris Faddis, President of Solidarity HealthShare, went on the BS Show with Bob Sansevere to discuss the issues around how we are manufacturing drugs in our society. Although it is cheaper to manufacture drugs in other countries, we are then charged a huge markup when those drugs come to America. Are there more efficient ways to approach this problem?
Check out Chris and Bob’s conversation below to hear more about the issues we are facing and what can be done about it.
Read the Transcript of their Conversation about Manufacturing Drugs in America
Bob Sansevere (00:00):
We are joined by Christopher Faddis, Co-Founder and President of the nonprofit healthcare sharing
ministry Solidarity HealthShare, which is an ethical, affordable alternative to traditional health insurance
and is faithful to the moral teachings of the Catholic Church. Chris, the shortage of pharmaceutical drugs
in the United States has reached a peak of 295, an increase of nearly 30%. Roll Call reported it on expert
testimony recently given before the Senate Homeland Security Committee. Lawmakers say the
worsening drug shortage is hurting the American healthcare system and they’re calling for moving
manufacturing from China to the United States. Chris, moving the manufacturing of drugs from China to
the US sounds like a great idea, but is it feasible? I mean, is it feasible financially? Can the US – I’m sure
US companies can’t produce it at the same price points – and do we have the ability to do it?
Chris Faddis (00:53):
Yeah, I mean, I think the question – the interesting thing about the price point is this: you know, one of
the reasons why we do all of our manufacturing overseas is that it’s lower price, but the reality is then
we charge a huge mark-up on those drugs. So, you know, you find in a lot of these medications, you’re
better off ordering them from an international supplier. You’re gonna get the same quality and you’ll
save money ’cause you’re not buying it from an American supplier, you know? So, you know, so yeah, I
mean, it’ll take a lot of time. You know, I think there’s so much of our infrastructure around creating
these drugs has been cast aside, and they’re spending more money on the research side of it here, and
then outsourcing it.
Chris Faddis (01:32):
So it’ll take time. But I think, again, what we saw in the pandemic is we’re being reliant on an
international supply chain is not in our best interest. At a minimum, we should try to have
manufacturers in multiple places. You know, there’s certainly opportunities to do some manufacturing
here. There’s manufacturing in other friendly countries that we could possibly take advantage of, but we
certainly should, you know, kind of diversify our sources. I think, because when you have – if shipping is
cut off from one part of the world to another, at least you would have an option. And what I don’t
understand is we do that with every other type of product that is imported to this country. We have
multiple sources, and yet with drugs, it seems like we’re primarily getting it from India and China.
Bob Sansevere (02:18):
Well, and I, I have a friend who – he swears if he finds out a drug is like a generic, it’s usually generics
comes from India, he won’t buy it or won’t use it. Because he hasn’t, and again, I have no idea. I’m sure
I’ve used plenty of drugs that – or we all have – from India or China also. I think they’re made in Mexico
and doesn’t Canada do some?
Chris Faddis (02:38):
Certainly, I mean, Germany’s known for their aspirin.
Bob Sansevere (02:39):
Yeah. You know, there are countries that, uh, that make ’em, but not at the, certainly not the way China
does. The, the number, I mean, the fact that it’s at 295 drugs are now not available is to me – that’s a
Chris Faddis (02:54):
It’s a big concern. And, and you look at opportunities like Mexico and even Canada, you know, there
certainly the price will go up a little bit. And, there still may be some concerns in Mexico as well, but we
have more ability to control that conversation in Mexico. We have much more influence on the country.
We have much, much more influence on their standards, and we certainly have more influence on their
manufacturing because, you know, a lot of those opportunities, a lot of those are, you know, have
business relationships in the US already. And, you know, there can be co-ownership and there’s lots of
opportunity in Mexico, I think, that, you know, we might as well take advantage of. It’s our sister
country. We can control the supply chain. I don’t know. I think there’s a, there’s an opportunity there.
We should explore.
Bob Sansevere (03:35):
Well, Mexico’s so good at sending illegal drugs over the border. Send some legal ones over the border,
send some more.
Chris Faddis (03:40):
Right. And maybe let’s get some legal stuff though. Maybe this will help stop that. Maybe if we provide
them more business, they’ll do more to fight the imported drugs here. So, you know, it’s just a, it is a
concern when you have that many drugs that are, you know, unavailable or shortages or whatever you
have. And again, if we have another one of these pandemic issues or another time where we get kind of
crunched on supply chain, you know, even if it was just a war, I mean, if there’s a war with Taiwan, I’m
certain that’s gonna affect our supply chain. Of course it will. Don’t tie it up. There’s, there’s a lot of
issues that, you know, we definitely should not be, uh, in this global economy, you know, reliant on one
or another, you know, supplier – especially with the other side of this, Bob, you gotta think about is our,
our own US political structure. You know, depending who the president is, we could lose all relations
with a country in a minute, right? And we’ve seen that in, in this presidency and in the last one. So, you
know, you don’t, you really don’t wanna, you know, rely on that and then have another, you know,
someone else come in and end all the relationships that got us the supply we have and so you, we really
need to be more wise about this. And again, it’s good for jobs, it’s good for, you know, for lots of other
things to bring some of that back.
Bob Sansevere (04:51):
Well, Chris, okay, this goes back 25, 30 years ago, I said on the radio that the United States should have a
USA card sold to compete with Visa and MasterCard and American Express, where you put a really low,
uh, amount on it. What you’re paying: the APR and you could pay your, your income, you know, have
the IRS with it and you could, you’re not paying as much, but the government though would get the APR,
it would be in the billions. I say that because maybe – the government wants to stick a hand in
everything – maybe it’s time to stick its hand in, in doing the manufacturing itself of these drugs and not
letting other companies do it where we will get dinged for a lot of money. Why can’t, I mean, I don’t like
government involvement, but in this one, if it saves money, why isn’t the government looking to
manufacture or open up different, uh, places or different businesses or I mean, warehouses that can do
it or sites that can do it. We do everything else, it seems. We try to do everything else.
Chris Faddis (05:48):
Right, right. You, you know, and it’s interesting ’cause like – and I said this at the beginning – but you
think about, okay, so we, we outsource the manufacturing of these drugs to save money, but who’s
saving money? It’s not us. It’s not the consumer. No, it’s not the end user because the manufacturing company or the, the, you know, the drug makers then market up so much that we end up spending
more for drugs that we imported to the US to be bought from US suppliers. We spend more than I could
go online and I can order the same medication, especially the name brands from New Zealand and have
it shipped all the way here from New Zealand. It’s manufactured the same way and I’m gonna save
money. So it makes no sense why we would even – this isn’t helping us. This isn’t helping the end user.
It’s helping these huge pharmaceutical companies line their profits and, and, uh, their pockets. And it’s,
it’s costing us more in the long run anyway, so we definitely should look at this.
Bob Sansevere (06:39):
Well, I’m guessing it’s lobbyists. I mean, these major pharmaceutical companies, no one in the
government or not enough people in government would get behind something like that because it
doesn’t line their pockets with lobbyists making huge donations to these politicians. More and more –
I’m not gonna get on a political rant of one party or the other – but more and more I’m thinking term
limits really do need to come into play.
Chris Faddis (07:01):
Yeah, I mean, you really – the thing is that it doesn’t, they’re spending, you know, they are spending a
little bit more money on the, on the democratic side, but the reality is they’re spending money, you
know, fairly close on this. On both sides. And, you know, you look at the year of 2020 and 2021, the, the
spend on lobbying from the pharmaceutical companies and the healthcare world just, I mean, I think it
tripled at one point. You know, and so that’s going and that’s going to everyone, right? It’s not just
going, uh, to people on one side or another. And so it is a big concern. And it’s one of the reasons why
we can’t seem to get anything done. Two administrations in a row, they’re trying to work on, you know,
drug costs, but ultimately all they’ve done is say, ‘we’re gonna limit the cost on diabetics, drugs and
Medicare’. And they still haven’t done it, by the way. Well, that, that doesn’t really solve any of the
problems. It might, it might help one of them. But that’s, you know, that’s only in, that’s only for
Medicare, so it doesn’t help the rest of us. So there’s a lot of work to be done here and you know, we
certainly can’t find ourselves in a situation where we don’t have antibiotics and we don’t have, you
know, all the kind of medications that we need on a regular basis, in, you know, for our families.
Bob Sansevere (08:11):
Well, and Chris, I wanna ask you about this. There is a national drug shortage, also a national cancer
drug shortage. So the US Food and Drug Administration has given a Chinese pharmaceutical company
permission to ship Cisplatin. It’s an unapproved chemotherapy drug coming here to the United States.
Now, unapproved is fine, but is it working in China or are we just getting some crap drug that no one
knows if it’ll work, if it’s, if it has a history of working? I don’t care if it’s unapproved in in the US If it’s
worked elsewhere, then it’s worth it. But do you know much about this drug or anything about it?
Chris Faddis (08:45):
Yeah, I mean, you know, I don’t know a ton about it. It’s certainly, Cisplatin by itself is definitely used. I
think it’s like 20% of cancer patients are treated with Cisplatin, um, and other similar drugs. I think the
question is, is China’s version okay? And the China version is not approved. And essentially, you know,
there, the questions will be about the quality. Is the quality of this, this medication up to par with other
suppliers that we can get elsewhere? And you know, I would hope, I would hope that the, the FDA has
some reasonable certainty there. And I think it’s one of those – I haven’t studied this one a lot – but I
think it’s one of those that, you know, oftentimes, you know, we are not able to get drugs that are approved in other countries ’cause the FDA hasn’t approved them. And we have doctors trying to find
ways to get them here. So I’m hopeful that this is one of those where it’s, yeah, it’s really the same
thing. Cisplatin is it’s, you know, it’s not just a Chinese drug. There are other manufacturers, and it is
important for cancer care. So, but I, it’s a little concerning that there hasn’t really been much done on it
as far as any sort of, you know, testing or, you know, approval.
Bob Sansevere (09:50):
Well, where, okay, we have many labs tested. How hard was that for them to do, to see – I mean, find
Chris Faddis (09:57):
You also wonder though, Bob, you know, what I wonder about it is, you know, is it like, ‘well it hasn’t
been approved because this other manufacturer convinced us to not approve the Chinese version’ and
you know, ‘so we know it’s okay, but we’re just, we’re gonna go ahead and approve it now ’cause we
need it’? I mean, the reality is we need the drug. I think there’s, doctors are saying that some cancer
patients could die if the, if this, if Cisplatin is not resolved – if we don’t, you know, get that supply
resolved. And so that’s a concern, right? We wanna make sure that’s available. Okay. But certainly if we
were able to emergency use, approve something, you know, for the vaccine, maybe we should do a little
testing and make sure this is safe before we bring it in.
Bob Sansevere (10:30):
Oh God, yes. But also where’s, why are we having shortages all of a sudden? I mean, what are they not
able to get? Is someone not getting some, uh, herbs to put in or, I don’t understand the whole reason
for a shortage on any of ’em. I mean, they know like Adderall is a shortage. They should know what they
Chris Faddis (10:44):
Yeah. They keep having these shortages. And I, and the thing that’s funny to me is what I’m
understanding, everything else that I’ve read about the shortages is that the shortages are actually
coming from the supply chain from China and India. So I don’t know how we have a shortage and all
these other things, but somehow we can get this one drug from China.
Bob Sansevere (10:59):
Yes. That’s what I need.
Chris Faddis (11:00):
It’s sort of, you know, and I don’t, and maybe part of it is that more of these manufacturers are only
manufacturing high dollar drugs. I mean, that could be part of it as well. You’re right in which, which
case your suggestion of some sort of national supply chain would be necessary. We, you know, we need
to make sure we have these things available. Getting the government involved scares me, but, you
know, it does well. But it does seem like it’s something we need to consider.
Bob Sansevere (11:24):
But they’re gonna get involved regardless. So we might as well let ’em get involved for something good. I
mean, they’re always pushing to get involved. All right, Chris it’s always greatly appreciated. Uh, Chris Faddis, President and Co-Founder of Solidarity HealthShare solidarity healthshare.org. Go there if you’d
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