It’s worse than we imagined.
For the last five years or so we have been sounding an alarm about generic drugs. That’s because we’ve been hearing from readers and listeners that sometimes their generic medicine has not worked as expected. In other cases they have experienced unpleasant or even dangerous side effects.
For almost 30 years we championed generics as a wonderful way for consumers to save money. We believed that the FDA was protecting consumers from poor quality medications.
Within the last decade, however, there has been a tremendous shift in the source of medications. Both raw ingredients and finished generic drugs are increasingly coming from countries like India and China.
There is an article in the Washington Post (June 17, 2007) by Marc Kaufman titled “FDA Scrutiny Scant in India, China as Drugs Pour into the U.S.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/16/AR2007061601295.html
It reveals that over the last seven years FDA has made 200 inspections of plants in both countries compared to 1222 quality insurance inspections in the U.S. last year. There is no possible way for FDA to inspect all the plants in China and India that are producing pharmaceuticals that land on American drugstore shelves.
The intense competition among generic drug makers and their search for the cheapest raw materials has driven the huge increase of imports. The same motivation drove pet food manufacturers to purchase wheat gluten contaminated with melamine from China. We worry that the FDA cannot guarantee the safety of these inexpensive pharmaceutical products any more than they could protect our pets.
If you have experienced a problem with a generic drug you can add your comment on the home page of this Web site: http://www.peoplespharmacy.com/archives/generic_drug_problems/report_generic_drug_problem.asp