Tiananmen Square, Beijing China

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: https://www.peoplespharmacy.com/2007/05/21/report-generic/

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  1. debbie waller

    I like to buy drugs online.

  2. Rusty

    I have bought both Viagra and Cialis from India for years. Initially I thought I was buying from a Canadian pharmacy, but it was just a front for an Indian supplier. The pills are not the same as the Cialis you get here. One Cialis from my local pharmacy lasted for 3 to 5 days and was good for multiple uses. The crap from India takes 2 to 3 pills to work anywhere near as good, and it does not last more than 1-2 days. The difference is 200+ pills for $120 or no more than 6 pills ( no matter what my doctor prescribes) at $40/ pill. I can live with the inefficiency at this price difference. I would much rather have the brand name drug where I know the quality, but not willing to pay that price of have my insurrance company tell me how often I can have sex.

  3. joyce P DAVIS

    is generic aricept from india safe?

  4. CS

    I was recently prescribed Z-Pack for an ear infection and was given the generic made in India and distributed by Greenstone. First dose, I developed tachycardia, anxiety, kidney pain, stomach pain, emotional instability, could not eat, drink or sleep.

    Went back to the pharmacy and paid out of pocket for the brand and did not have any of the above side effects at all. I believe the generics have different additives than the brand and do not go through the same kind of testing. I also had a similar reaction to Ceftin made in India in 2014. They might work for some people, but for others, some of the fillers may be toxic.

  5. Mark
    Palo Alto, CA

    I’ve been using generic Ambien, Cialis and Viagra from Indian Pharmacies for over 10 years and have never had a problem – all pills worked exactly as the brand name pill I was paying 10X the price for. I have read that the FDA is trying to scare people away from these generics because the US Pharma Industry is losing too much money from the competition.

    • William

      I also, but there was horrible side effects, made my ears hot, stuff my nose. I just felt like crap every time I took the Viagra from India.

    • Edward
      United States

      What company did you go through..was interested in getting cialis but wasn’t sure of the quality.

  6. dojohndaily

    Don’t pick your nose = no bleeding

  7. DM

    I have ordered Prednisone (Prednisolone) from India for years and it works fine…. ditto Albuertol (Salbutrol) inhalers.
    The drugs are named differently, as they are in all of Europe and The Middle East/Asia.
    My only issue is the packages end up held by Customs and I get a letter asking if they are mine and are they legal!!! Just send my packages, Big Brother…. I need medications to BREATHE and when I can get the same result at 20% the cost… PLEASE allow me my meds w/o the hassles!
    People’s Pharmacy response: Your comment is a reminder that different people have had varying experiences. We do recommend that consumers exercise caution and know something about the purveyor when they buy medications.

    • M

      What company did your pills get manufactured by? I ordered prednisone from China and a bit nervous to take them.

  8. DRG

    For years I used Timolol Maleate manufactured by Falcon in Texas for my Glaucoma. This product decreased my eye pressure from 27 in both eyes to 13 & 14 without any side effects.
    A couple of years ago my drug provider switched to Timolol Maleste manufactured by FDC Limited at 8-8,M.I.D.C., Waluj; Dist.Aurangabad 431 136 India. My eye pressure spiked to 20 & 21 and my eyes were constantly bloodshot.
    I stopped using this version of Timolol and used sevral bottles of Falcon manufactured Timolol that I still had. The eye pressure deceased first to 17 then back down to 13 & 14. When I ran out of the Falcon-made Timolol I reverted to the FDC / India Timolol only to see my pressure increase to 19 & 20 with constant eye pain,redness and several broken blood vessels..
    If I can’t get my drug provider to see the light and provide the home grown generic Timolol manufactured by Falcon, I will get it on my own.
    A word to the wise: Third World Countries will provide Third Rate Products especially when they are not being supervised.

  9. ann

    Does anyone have experience buying generic Benicar from India?

  10. Teresa J.

    I am taking Farcun 200 fluonazole for yeast I can only find Farcan, has anyone ordered yeast meds? I have been really sick starting to get concerned. I just need to know this a real drug payed 326.00 for 120 pills.

  11. Dr. M

    I recently, within the last two years, began using Cialis with great results. When I told him that my insurance didn’t cover it, my urologist gave me a nice supply of free samples. When I ran out, I called my local Walgreens to find out that each pill without insurance would cost $18! Insane! This is a whole other issue for another day, however.
    So instead of bothering my doctor every few months I ordered a supply of 60 “generic” 40 mg Cialis pills from India. The 20mg pills of brand name Cialis that I got from my urologist were not available online, so I figured I’d try the 40mg versions and would cut them in half if it was too much. So they came in about 12 days, and I tried one out; I was skeptical at first because each pill was only about a dollar, and generally in life if something seems too good to be true it probably is…
    So I immediately noticed that the side effects I usually get with Cialis began about a half an hour after the first pill. Bad heart burn, slight headache, slight inflammation of nasal membranes. I was never so happy to get these side effects, because it meant that the drug was good! And it did work I found out that night! Now as far as safety is concerned, I would probably stay away from drugs made in China; I’m not too confident I’m getting a safe product when it comes from China!
    I don’t know that India is better, I’ve never heard anything bad about their exports, but that doesn’t mean anything. Something like Cialis is one thing. If you’re getting a medication from overseas that you must take everyday, and that missing this medication for any length of time could be life threatening, like blood pressure meds or other cardiovascular drugs, I would probably still look for generic versions, but I wouldn’t get them from overseas. It’s not worth the risk. One great thing about Cialis is that the overseas version is generic; the US has no generic alternative, so the companies that make Cialis and Viagra are raking it in.
    I had thought that once a drug is on the market for 10 years that other companies were then allowed to produce generic versions, but I guess I was wrong. Viagra has been around well over 10 years and there’s no generic available here. So the generic Cialis works great and at $60/ sixty pills it’s a great buy. They gave me 4 free Viagra pills with the order but I haven’t tried one yet. Again, as with the Cialis, they only come in 100mg pills I stead of the 50mg I’ve taken in the past, so I’ll probably cut this one in half when I try it.
    I hope this was helpful. You may want to consult with your doctor before ordering these meds to see if he thinks the benefits outweigh the risks, if any.
    Dr. M

  12. J

    I am guessing you do not know what an AB rated generic is?

    • David

      Hello I’m Dave was wondering if you could tell me the address of this company , I can’t afford these prices here , I’m an ex soldier live and breathe red white and blue but I also need to survive and try to keep my wife happy thank you

  13. Julie

    I have to agree with you! I ordered some meds from India recently and am awaiting their arrival. I came here to read this site and almost was scared from taking them. After your keen observation I went back and looked at the comments and realized that you were right and I am definitely going to try my meds from India…they are so much cheaper why would I spend more?
    Thank you for sharing your experience.

  14. Les

    I read through nearly all of these comments. It looks to me that most people with issues have problems after knowing the drug is from over seas or are biased to start. This leads me to think that many of the issues people are having are physiological in nature.
    I’d bet that the expensive US Brand drug would give bad results if it was packaged in a box saying “Made in India or China…” and the India/China drugs would give great results if labeled, “Made in USA”. My wife and I use several RX drugs from India with great results and save about $850 every month! Even if I were filthy rich, I would buy my RX drugs from India. Why waste good money?
    BTY, Just because the FDA inspects drugs factories in the US doesn’t keep problems from occurring. No amount of government intervention will fix all problems and in many cases causes more. All the intervention only adds to the cost of US drugs and doesn’t make them any more effective or safe. If you want cheaper drugs, let the market set the prices and they will be cheaper and better and people will not have to wait for 15 or 20 years for the FDA to approve new meds.

  15. EA

    Ive taken Z paks many times over the years for simple sinus infections, last week i received one from my pharmacy and immediately noticed it was marked Made in India. I had reservations, but took it anyway. On day 3 I broke out in hives.
    I stopped the medication and will never take another drug made in in India, or China after reading all these comments.

    • billie jean
      Austin tx

      I have a big problem, with the generic coming from Audiobani Pharm. India ! I have to take addereall and the generic is what my ins will cover…
      These are 30 mlg, and 2 times a day, well I have no effect at all. My ADD is through the roof, I have since closed my ETSY shop, I can not focus or read the patterns to make my product.
      I have to call the pharm, and see what generic they have, so I can make it through a month. Sam’s Club, told me told today, that the TEVA, (the only that works) is 3x’s more in cost. I said…. It’s my mental Health you are putting on the line, here.

      So I hate the med’s I am on now.

      thanks .. i’m done, I have no more patients to write.
      bj barkwell

  16. CH

    My husband buys heart med from Big Mountain Drugs in Canada. The last refill came from India. He is now experiencing chest pains daily. The scary thing, is that we don’t know if the chest pains are occurring due to a lack of effectiveness of the medication, or due to his condition worsening that would have occurred anyways.

  17. Jeanne S.

    I had a UTI ad took what I believed was a generic of Bactrim, As a nurse I usually check the label and, this time I didn’t and took the meds as prescribed, only after 3 days I was not feeling better, but worse, severe headaches, joints swollen and aching, puritis from head to toe plus UTI had gotten worse.
    I did an in home urine test and UTI was worse, meds finished, looked at label and checked generic name against the PDR and my nurses drug handbook, not in either, went on line and found I got medication from India.
    This COULD NOT of had ANY ACTIVE INGREDIENT, TOOK ANOTHER ANTI-BIOTIC FOR a week, then followed up with an urologist only to find I was suffering from a secondary infection with possibly caused by the first medication being contaminated with e-coli, I am now starting my third round of another anti-biotic, since July as I just can’t seem to find a medication to counteract he first bogus med and it’s damage.
    Ins. co saved a few dollars on the generic form India but it’s cost them a lot since. I am switching my meds to Walgreens as soon as one is built close to me, until then I will take my drug handbook with me and refuse anything not listed.

  18. Donna L

    About 2 weeks ago I visited my doctor for a cold/flu that manifested into a sinus infection and bronchitis. She prescribed a Z-pack antibiotic of 5 pills. My co-pay was $40.00. When my husband brought this home I immediately noticed the words MADE IN INDIA. In the past when I’ve needed to take this type of antibiotic it worked quickly, within 2 or 3 days, and I would have to remind myself to finish the entire prescription.
    Well, I took the entire Z-pack, plus the cough pearls, and a Ventalin inhaler. I was NOT one bit better after 5 days, so I had to go back to my doc. She agreed I was not any better. Now I’m on a stronger antibiotic, Leviquin (1 tablet each day for 7 days) and 2 weeks of prednisone. This is day 4 on the new med therapy, I’m not well, but I do feel much better. I would like to add that every patient should be advised where their drugs are being made so that we have a choice of whether to take them or find another pharmacy.
    As a Cancer patient I believe I have a right to know if these toxic or fake drugs will do me more harm than good. Friends, please remember, if our government won’t oversee labs and manufacturing warehouses in other countries, then we must be our own medical advocates.

  19. tl

    I was put on venlafaxine several years ago and have many times experienced the horrible withdrawal symptoms from either trying to quit with the help of a doctor, forgetting a dose or sometimes for no reason at all. I spent most of that time uninsured paying over 100 dollars every month to take a medication that I would be incapacitated without, due to it’s neuro effects.
    Finally one day when fed up with the cost I ordered it from an online source operating out of India. I got 90 pills for 60 bucks and not once had any physical problems. The only thing I don’t like about it is the long shipping period.
    I recently got a job that offered a health plan, so decided to get my generic med from my pharmacy down the street, and it was only $10. But I started having all the withdrawal affects, despite not changing my dosage. So my doctor wrote me a prescription for the name brand Effexor for $60, and I’m still having the withdrawal symptoms.
    I’m waiting anxiously for my order from India to arrive. In the mean time I’m stuck in bed writhing in pain, unable to leave the house because of all the dizzyness, nausea and brain zaps. I don’t know what it is about the Indian stuff that makes it so much better than the US sold stuff, but I definitely recommend it for anyone on SSRIs or SNRIs who experience the dreaded withdrawal syndrome.

  20. Abigal

    I used the brand Imitrex for migraine headaches for years with excellent results. After being switched to the generic Dr. Reddy’s Sumatriptan, I get half the relief of the headache that Imitrex provided, often the headaches reoccur, dragging on for days, and I am getting hives EVERY time that I take the medication. Never had hives with Imitrex.

  21. Jake

    I was wondering if the box was white and purple. I’m trying to find name of company.

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