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The great medicines migration: How China controls key drug supplies

Western powers aim to reverse the industry's West-to-East shift

By the pandemic year of 2020, China accounted for the bulk of exports of certain pharmaceutical raw materials. The country now plays an indispensable role in the supply chain for antibiotics and vitamins.

TOKYO -- In spring 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, many pharmaceutical companies faced supply chain disruptions. Often, chemicals used to produce the key ingredients in drugs were sourced from only a few suppliers in China -- or sometimes just one.

The pandemic has brought to light just how much the global pharmaceutical supply chain depends on China, even for the most basic ingredients.

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