Chinese Company Under Congressional Scrutiny Makes Key U.S. Drugs

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A Chinese company targeted by members of Congress over potential ties to the Chinese government makes blockbuster drugs for the American market that have been hailed as advances in the treatment of cancers, obesity and debilitating illnesses like cystic fibrosis.

WuXi AppTec is one of several companies that lawmakers have identified as potential threats to the security of individual Americans’ genetic information and U.S. intellectual property. A Senate committee approved a bill in March that aides say is intended to push U.S. companies away from doing business with them.

But lawmakers discussing the bill in the Senate and the House have said almost nothing in hearings about the vast scope work WuXi does for the U.S. biotech and pharmaceutical industries — and patients. A New York Times review of hundreds of pages of records worldwide shows that WuXi is heavily embedded in the U.S. medicine chest, making some or all of the main ingredients for multibillion-dollar therapies that are highly sought to treat cancers like some types of leukemia and lymphoma as well as obesity and H.I.V.

The Congressional spotlight on the company has rattled the pharmaceutical industry, which is already struggling with widespread drug shortages now at a 20-year high. Some biotech executives have pushed back, trying to impress on Congress that a sudden decoupling could take some drugs out of the pipeline for years.

WuXi AppTec and an affiliated company, WuXi Biologics grew rapidly, offering services to major U.S. drugmakers that were seeking to shed costs and had shifted most manufacturing overseas in the last several decades.

WuXi companies developed a reputation for low-cost and reliable work by thousands of chemists who could create new molecules and operate complex equipment to make them in bulk. By one estimate, WuXi has been involved in developing one-fourth of the drugs used in the United States. WuXi AppTec reported earning about $3.6 billion in revenue for its U.S. work.

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