Journalists continue to comb through the latest batch of diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, seeking to interpret the mass of raw information. Until now, the cables’ significance has seemed to be limited to political circles. But one cable turns out to contain the 2008 version of the Critical Foreign Dependencies Initiative (CFDI) list, which names international facilities that could be considered crucial for American security. Perhaps not surprisingly, the list cites several pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical facilities.
The cable is organized by region, and many of the drug and biologic facilities that it mentions are located in Europe. Among them are Baxter’s (Deerfield, IL) immune globulin intravenous facility in Vienna, GlaxoSmithKline’s (London) pertussis-vaccine facilities in Belgium, Novo Nordisk’s (Bagsvaerd, Denmark) insulin facility in Denmark, and Genzyme’s (Cambridge, MA) fill–finish plant in Waterford, Ireland. Contract manufacturers also are represented by Vetter’s Ravensburg, Germany, facility.
Chemical suppliers also make an appearance. BASF’s Ludwigshafen, Germany, plant is called the “world’s largest integrated chemical complex.” And the cable asserts that Siemens’s Erlangen, Germany, location provides “essentially irreplaceable production of key chemicals.”
The leaked cable contains no revelations. The mentions of the Siemens and BASF facilities are no surprise, nor is it a shock to know that Hoffman–LaRoche’s (Basel) headquarters is an important supplier of Tamiflu. Any interested journalist or college student could have found this information—which is public, after all—through a bit of research. I’d argue that the leaked cable does no significant harm, nor does it aid any would-be terrorist.
The cables that revealed diplomats’ candid assessments of international leaders could complicate relations between the US and other countries. But the leaked CFDI list actually could benefit the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical industries—and the world at large—if it prompts the cited companies to take steps to secure their facilities.