Well, what do you expect Margaret Hamburg to say? There she is in Shanghai, touring some facility with Chinese government officials who, of course, will do their best to make sure she doesn't catch a whiff of a contaminated active ingredient or come within 100 miles of a gray market supplier. And there is international diplomacy to consider, after all - who buys all that US government debt?
Despite being labeled a paper tiger by a pair of Congressman who are angry over the lack of progress into the Heparin probe (see here), the FDA commish was all smiles as she explained her view of the relationship between her agency and its Chinese equivalent.
"I leave feeling very encouraged by the partnership we've developed here," Hamburg tells the Associated Press. "This is a priority for China as it is for the United States." She adds the two agencies are purusing a "common agenda" to improve manufacturing practices and regulate supply chains.
The FDA has set up offices in three Chinese cities and is cooperating in training and joint inspections, among other areas. But as the AP notes, more than 20 million imports of FDA-regulated products are expected this year, and less than 1 percent are inspected. Earlier this year, the FDA began using an automated system to sort through millions of foreign shipments and identify food and drugs that are most likely to be contaminated.
But "we will never have the resources physically and financially to inspect all those facilities," Hamburg readily concedes. "It is not a simple problem to eliminate in terms of the practice of bad actors who are willing to put human health at risk to make more money. It is an area we are continuing to monitor very carefully."