MIDLAND PARK, N.J. – Assemblyman Chris DePhillips decided to introduce a pension divestment bill earlier this week after hearing complaints from leaders within the New Jersey pharmaceutical industry.
“The outbreak has really become a wake-up call for the state and industry,” said DePhillips (R-Bergen). “New Jersey is supposed to be the medicine chest for the world, but China is in control of our pharmaceutical manufacturing. That must change.”
In all, 80 percent of the U.S. supply of antibiotics are made in China, according to U.S. Commerce Department data. China accounts for 95 percent of U.S. imports of ibuprofen, 91 percent of hydrocortisone, 70 percent of acetaminophen, 45 percent of penicillin and 40 percent of heparin.
DePhillips noted that lawmakers from both parties are now calling for a dramatic revamping of domestic U.S. drug manufacturing operations that have been outsourced to China and a handful of other nations over the past two decades.
He began drafting legislation to be introduced on May 4 that would prohibit New Jersey pension investment in Chinese pharmaceuticals.
“Divesting from Chinese pharmaceuticals would create an incentive for New Jersey to once again be a world leader,” said DePhillips. “Right now, the state has an interest in Chinese expansion, and that needs to change to incentivize growth in our own industries.”
New Jersey’s $76 billion public-worker pension system consists of seven different funds, covering the retirements of roughly 770,000 current and former employees, ranging from teachers to police officers and judges. Pension funds are managed by Treasury’s Division of Investment, with oversight provided by the State Investment Council, a board that meets in public on a regular basis in Trenton.
State pension funds are invested in at least two China-based pharmaceutical companies, Hutchison China MediTech Limited and Sinopharm Group.