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Paying more for medicines may mean better availability

COVID-19 has reaffirmed two things Americans ought to have reflected upon previously about China:

First, relying on the veracity of China’s government is foolish. We know Beijing has lied about various aspects of the coronavirus epidemic.

Second, this country is far too reliant on China for certain critical goods, including medicines and, to a lesser extent, health care equipment.

Obviously, the first issue needs to be resolved first. All the U.S. government demands for candor in the world will make no difference to leaders of the Chinese Communist Party. Only a concentrated effort by the intelligence community, hopefully in cooperation with other countries, will reveal the truth.

Such a probe already is under way, and results thus far are disturbing. There are indications the COVID-19 virus escaped accidentally from a Chinese government research laboratory.

Our second task as Americans — and we mean that literally — is to wean ourselves away from cheap consumer goods manufactured in China. There is a reason so many U.S. companies rely on that country for products. It is that low-cost labor in China allows retailers to market the low-priced goods we Americans demand.

Producing some important goods, such as medicines, here in the United States will mean higher price tags. That will be inescapable.

Getting out of the vicious cycle of lower prices resulting in more reliance on foreign manufacturers will require American consumers to begin shopping strategically. That will mean determining where products have been manufactured — and being willing to pay a few pennies or even a few dollars more for those originating here.

Bitter medicine? Perhaps. But paying a few dollars a year more for certain medicines may mean that if another nationwide health care emergency occurs in the future, the drugs we need will be available quickly and in the quantities necessary to avoid widespread tragedies.

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