The adventurous journey of pharmaceutical cargo around the globe

Arete-Zoe – August 23, 2016

Once upon a time, medicines with patent of Royal favor counted as precious high value cargo, along with tea, spices and rum, shipped from Old England to Amerikay and all over the world. The great advantage of medicinal nostrums compared to rum was that the crew typically could not drink the cargo on the way there.

” I’ve a fine strong crew and I tell them what to do

I’m the captain of the ship The Bonnie Lady
She’s my joy and my pride and she’s twenty meters wide
And they call her the ship The Bonnie Lady”

” We’ve a vast haul of rum a cargo we will run
From along the far off shores of Haiti
With the brisk salt air just blowin’ through my hair
At the wheel of the ship The Bonnie Lady”

Times have changed. Pharmaceutical companies grew bigger and stronger, and moved their manufacturing operations to India and China. Big markets in the U.S. and in Europe import vast amounts of medicines from exotic places in South-East Asia. Many active pharmaceutical ingredients, including essential medicines, are manufactured exclusively in China. One thing has not changed over the centuries though: straits and choke-points cargo ships have to pass on their way from Asia to Europe remained exactly the same. Well, with the exception of the Suez Canal that significantly shortened journey from the Far East to Europe and the Panama Canal that connected the U.S. East and West Coast.

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