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For decades the FDA has told Americans that generic drugs are absolutely identical to brand name medicines. Physicians, pharmacists and insurance companies reassure patients that a $4 generic prescription is the same as a brand name medicine that costs over $150 for the same number of pills.

The only problem is that some generic drugs are now skyrocketing in price for lack of competition. It is puzzling why so many generic drug manufacturers have stopped making certain products. It is almost as if the industry has divvied up the market.

The results are appalling. This is how we ended up with Martin Shkreli at Turing Pharmaceutical jacking up the price of one drug 5,000%. But he isn’t the only one. Other companies are also abusing the American public by raising generic drug prices into the stratosphere. Read more about this scandal at this link.

Give Us More Generic Drugs!

Congress is anxious to see the FDA approve more generic drugs faster. Our legislators want to save money on medicines. After all, federal programs like Medicare, Medicaid and the Veterans Administration spend a lot on prescription drugs.

Private and nonprofit hospitals also want to spend less on medicine. And of course insurance companies are desperate to get people taking cheaper generic medicine. No one seems to be concerned about quality.

Heck, we didn’t worry about quality either. Starting with our first book, The People’s Pharmacy (published in 1976), we told people that very same thing. For over 25 years we believed that the FDA was totally on top of both the approval and monitoring of generic drugs. We never even stopped to think about manufacturing problems. Of course in those days most generic drugs were made in the U.S.A That all has changed.

Where Your Generic Drugs Come From:

Now that 88 percent of all prescriptions are dispensed as generic medications, the quality of such drugs is more important than ever. But the vast majority of them now come from abroad, where FDA oversight has historically been dismal.

The active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and the so-called inactive ingredients now come primarily from all over the world: Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Slovakia, Thailand, Turkey and goodness knows where else. Historically, the FDA hasn’t even known where all the chemicals in your medicine originated. There is no requirement to put country of origin on the drug label.

What the FDA has Found in India:

In the last few years, though, FDA inspectors have been active in India, where so many inexpensive generic drugs are manufactured for the American market. What they have found is frightening.

In just the last few weeks, the FDA reprimanded the Indian drug manufacturer Wockhardt for hiding unwelcome test results and deleting data. This is not the first time Wockhardt has run into trouble. Since April of last year the company has recalled hundreds of millions of tablets and capsules. They included popular blood pressure medicines such as amlodipine and lisinopril as well as the antibiotic azithromycin and the sleeping pill zolpidem.

Wockhardt is not the only Indian pharmaceutical firm to run afoul of the FDA. Other Indian companies that have received warning letters over the last several months include Aurobindo, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, IPCA and Sun Pharmaceutical Industries.

Ranbaxy Laboratories, one of the largest of the Indian generic pharmaceutical firms, has had multiple run-ins with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. A few years ago this company pleaded guilty to felony charges after being accused of falsifying data. The company paid $500 million in fines.

An interesting note on the Ranbaxy mess: Sun Pharmaceuticals of India acquired Ranbaxy for $3.2 billion last year, making Sun Pharma India’s biggest drug company. Sun has itself come under FDA scrutiny. A Bloomberg report noted that Sun Pharma employees had faked test results.

How Many Companies Have Run Into Trouble?

Over the last five years the FDA has banned products from 44 different Indian drug-making facilities. That should give insurance companies some cause for alarm when they insist that their customers must use generic rather than brand name drugs.

What About China?

India is not the only place that is coming under increased scrutiny by the FDA. For years, the agency only had a few inspectors on the ground in China. Now that there are more, they are discovering shortcomings in Chinese plants too.

Warning letters have been sent to a number of companies in recent months. Even brand name companies have been tainted. Pfizer’s Chinese partner, Zhejiang Hisun, was accused of systemic problems associated with “data manipulation.”

That is a sanitized way of saying employees were cooking the books and violating the rules of good manufacturing practices. Customers had been complaining about drugs not measuring up to standards between 2012 and 2014.

What Should You Do?

Patients are the ultimate customers of foreign-made pharmaceuticals. We have been receiving complaints about generic drugs that do not work as well as their brand name counterparts for more than a decade:

Problems with Generic Prilosec for Reflux:

We have been hearing about this particular problem for years:

Kathi in Milwaukee:

“I became so ill after my pharmacy plan switched me to generic omeprazole that my MD ordered an endoscopy to make sure I did not have esophageal cancer. I was sick for almost 3 months, and am still having issues almost a year later.”

Linda in Los Angeles:

“I have been taking Prilosec by AstraZenca for 20 years and have had no GERD problems at all. As of November 1, 2015, I was advised by my pharmacy that I would now have to take a generic. I have taken a generic omeprazole (20mg) for 40 days now, and it is NOT the same. I am burping all the time and have reflux and choking, something I never had with the brand name Prilosec. I am fortunate that my insurance has paid 80% of the cost (over $200 month).”

Men on Flomax for Frequent Urination:

Men who have to get up at night to go to the bathroom know pretty quickly how well their medicine is working:

Henry in Nevada:

“My first generic flomax (tamsulosin) was barely tolerable. In the second prescription the pharmacy changed manufacturers and this generic was far worse and not as effective. If the FDA is not directly monitoring these drugs then they¬†are unlikely to have the necessary ingredients to be effective.”

BK on other ingredients in tamsulosin:

“My husband has been taking Flomax for a few years, when just last month, a generic form came to the market. Due to the inert ingredients, he ended in the hospital with gastritis. My insurance company will not pay for Flomax, only the generic tamsulosin. We cannot afford the high price of Flomax.

“I asked them to make a one-time exception to override the cost for a one-month supply of Flomax, just to wean him off the alpha blocker as needed due to severe side effects, but was denied.

“I could not believe the inert ingredients are so different. Drug companies should be aware of up coming law suits they are causing!”

Just think of the extra cost of hospitalization because of the generic substitution. How short-sighted of the insurance company in our humble opinion.

How to Report Generic Drug Problems to the FDA:

The FDA is starting to pay attention to our frequent messages of generic manufacturing problems. Anyone who would like to report a drug problem may do so at www.FDA.gov/MedWatch.

Patients can also share their experiences below in the comment section. Please try to find the name of the generic drug manufacturer on the label of the bottle so we can let the FDA know which companies have frequent customer complaints.

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  1. Amanda
    South Carolina
    Reply

    The zolpidem manufactured by Aurobindo Pharma in India is nothing like Ambien. This is sold by Walmart. Someone at the FDA should be looking at Aurobindo. These companies are making a fortune at the American publics expense. I wonder what actually is in this zolpidem, I would not be surprised if it was chalk or something worse! Walmart also bears responsibility and should have inspectors making sure the products are made correctly.

  2. Bill
    New York
    Reply

    I get occasional lower back pain, from arthritis and heavy yardwork. I used to have Vicodin on hand for the days it was bad. Now, with our government flipping out over opioids (really heroin and fentanyl), Vicodin is hard to get. All this does is force decent people to deal with Indian pharmaceuticals to get what we need. Now, I have be concerned if my Vicodin is even real, and if real is it the proper dose. So thanks a bunch, government. These unmarked pills from Hyderabad are *maybe* the right med at the right dosage, but who knows! I wish we had real freedom in this nanny-state country.

  3. Betty M
    Louisiana. USA
    Reply

    I was using TEVA Generics Avapro. the pharmacy told me they could not get TEVA brand any more, they give solco heal ,it has cause me sever headaches,dizziness, and weight lost.I have lost all trust in generics

  4. Happy camper
    Arkansas
    Reply

    Aurobindo — shame shame! Been taking generic Prozac with wonderful results for long term, hard to treat depression. But no longer happy. Have been suffering and feeling hopeless until an ‘aha’ moment today. Three months ago was switched to Aurobindo without notice — even tho pharmacy record specifies NO meds from India or China (due to previous problems). Depression getting worse and hit bottom now. This morning, exasperated and considering stopping med entirely and just giving up on being well, I instead pulled my receipts. Oops! Pharmacy goofed the last three months. Now, instead of me either requesting a higher dosage, or quitting entirely, i will give it one more try and have dr. specify ON RX itself that no meds from India or China be given. Eureka! I will give this a try and be faithful in checking all rxs before paying for them.

  5. Judy
    Pennsylvania
    Reply

    My pharmacy swititched to tramadol 50 mg from India sun pharma who bought coraco. It is useless. Just called the pharmacy who said the regular supplier was back ordered. Do not use generics from Sun Pharma.

  6. Matthew
    Reply

    I used a company called Nexus Lifecarem it’s a scam! Run away, run far, far away. I bought “medicine” from this phony company that was billed as the “same as in the US”, a very expensive anti-fungal that was intended to help my cat. Not only was their medicine slow in coming and hard to deal with, but I later learned from my Veterinarian that IT WAS FAKE!

    When I asked for my money back, they stalled and stalled and finally disappears. All the fears you have about scam Indian Companies are true for Nexus Lifecare! DO NOT DO BUSINESS WITH THIS COMPANY! They are a rip off and a scam and seem to have to problem with the fact that they are selling people things that will harm or kill them.
    RUN AWAY! NEXUS LIFECARE IS A SCAM!!!

  7. Ashley
    Columbus
    Reply

    My pharmacy just switched my generic adderall to Aurobindo. Said they couldn’t order me anything else because they made a deal with Aurobindo. It doesn’t seem to work at all and not only does it not work but the side effects are terrible. It makes me feel irritated and restless.

  8. Bink
    Los Angeles
    Reply

    I have been on fluoxetine for PMS several times in my life. Recently, my pharmacist filled with Aurobindo brand which doesn’t seem to be working even though I doubled the dosage. When I went to the company website, it didn’t work in any reasonable way and I was never able to ask a question on it even though it looked normal. This didn’t make me anymore confident about the quality of the medication…I have requested another brand.

    • Erika
      Los Angeles
      Reply

      Yes, it has the same effect on me!

    • Susan Kinsella
      Massachusetts
      Reply

      I have had these side effects from a med ( different than yours) that I had taken for 10 years. Got a generic I later found out was from Sun Pharma and was horrified to have irritability and anxiety as a side effect. Told Pharmacist about it

  9. Maureen
    British Columbia
    Reply

    Has anyone heard oh Healthpose canadian online pharmacy(actually prescriptions are from India)
    Is this company safe? and are they legitimate?

  10. margaret
    ct
    Reply

    I have been on various benzodiazepine with different doses, and there has been no indication of DRY MOUTH and how serious it can be. I encourage all patients who have dry mouth to take the necessary precautions, dry mouth is due to lack of saliva which washes away bacteria from the mouth. If bacteria remain there, it can go under teeth and cause serious dental cavities.

    I lost my insurance 10 yrs. ago, and had regular check ups and repairs as needed.

    I went to aspen dental who did a panoramic x-ray and cursory exam at no charge. It ended up that I needed to have 6 molars reinforced (cavity under existing cavity) in 6 teeth- mostly molars, which I have done at a cost of almost $2,000. Now I need crowns on them-$1250 each, – then deep teeth cleaning by a gum dentist, and my gums are wearing thin.

    If I had been forewarned of the catastrophic destruction to teeth by dry mouth, I would have been more diligent with daily oral hygiene and visited dentist more often. I am trying to find some financial assistance with this because I am on medicare which does not have dental at all. I personally think it should be more highlighted or given more attention by service providers the serious of dry mouth and the cost involved.

    If anyone knows of agency/charity that would assist in paying for some or all of dental costs I would appreciate knowing about it.I am going to contact my “disease chapter” to see if they have any possible solutions. So keep those suckers in your mouth, chew gum and use the dry mouth products.

    • Dee
      Minnesota
      Reply

      There’s alot from India going though Canada pharmacy names online due to US postal customs. I know becuse of ordering. I have had great luck with my orders from India Alldaychemist has been Great.
      I am going keep using them.

  11. Judith
    Peoria, IL
    Reply

    I recently switched to mail order prescriptions through my ins. company. I take Carvedilol and have done well on it until getting my new prescription which is manufactured by the Aurobindo pharmacy. I don’t feel good and am very short of breath. I am switching back to the American made brand and notifying my insurance. I have no proof but I’m not taking chances with heart medicine. Judi

  12. Sheila
    PA.
    Reply

    I recently got my first refill of 10 mg Percocet manufactured by Aurobindo and am so angry. These are the worst pills I have ever taken and they do not work! I have had my percocet from several different manufacturers and none of those have ever come close to being as bad as the ones from this company. Not only do they not work but they make you feel absolutely awful besides all the pain you are already in.
    What in the world is the FDA doing, certainly not their job!
    Now, I ask the pharmacist what company they are using before I fill my meds and go else where if necessary. FDA, you are doing the consumer more harm than good!

  13. anonymous
    Reply

    Walgreens has recently been changing manufacturers. I was surprised to find out how many items came from outside the country, mainly India. After researching it, I am going to try and request that my drugs come from the U.S. only. Do not know if this is possible. But I am going to try and follow through with it. If more of us complain, maybe they will stop using manufacturers out of the country. My daughter lived in China for 8 years. After living there, she is reluctant to trust any drug manufactured there.

  14. Kim
    Georgetown, TX
    Reply

    My last refill of Sumatriptan from a pharmacy in Georgetown, TX was from a different manufacturer. It is manufactured for Aurobindo Pharma USA, Inc, and manufactured BY Aurobindo Pharma Limited, Hyderabad-500 090, India. As this article states, Aurobindo is one of the Indian companies that has received warning letters from the FDA. How can I know if this med is okay and FDA approved?

  15. ganesh
    INDIA
    Reply

    Do not fall for Corporations cheap publicity. Watch Fire in the Blood movie. Where Generic AIDS drugs by an Indian company CIPLA saved millions of Africans.

    AIDS drugs had worked more effectively than patent drugs

    Insatiable Greedy Corporations buy doctors, hospitals and media. Just do your own research, do not buy for their tricks

  16. Jeanne
    USA
    Reply

    I was prescribed an antibiotic for a UTI and it worked great! 4 months later, I had another UTI and filled the script. The capsules looked much larger but the pharmacist said it was a different manufacturer and had more “fillers”. This time the medication is not working. I was told they always get the “cheapest”. Great. Just what our poor bodies need. The “cheapest”. I would happily pay a few dollars more for the first medication I took which worked. I was also told the FDA watches the India company that makes it. LOL

  17. Ashutosh Mahajan
    Pune, India
    Reply

    Simple Formula:- Cost is directly proportional to the Quality of product.

  18. Michele Fischer
    Pennsylvania
    Reply

    I took sertraline from Aurobindo which came through my mail order pharmacy. Upon the first dose, about one hour after ingesting, my head was in a fog, lightheaded, and then I became extremely anxious. Switching to a different manufacturer. Hope this goes well.

  19. Polly
    England
    Reply

    My son is taking 100mg sertraline per day and 2.5mg aripiprazole

    He is severely autistic and non verbal, 14 years old with Severe OCD, anxiety and bipolar.

    He has been on sertraline for a number of years and the aripiprazole for 4 months.
    He has had several brands of sertraline including the original Lustral or Zoloft a its known in America (we’re in the UK).

    Recently, he was given the brand Aurobindo sertraline, 3 days after starting it his anxiety and OCD dramatically increased. I didn’t know what the cause was at the time, it was like withdrawal symptoms and very frightening and upsetting to see him suffering. Then I realised after researching on the internet that others had suffered the same problems with Aurobindo, which was manufactured in India.
    It was definitely not a psychological response as he has no comprehension of medicine.

    It makes me wonder if when his ocd has returned and medication been increased whether it was necessary, or if he had started a new brand at the time. I previously believed all who said the generics were exactly the same, obviously not !!!
    I am worrying now about starting his new prescription of aripiprazole, he was on Abilify the original brand, but I have just been given the generic brand wockhardt, which looking on here says is also from India.

    Pharmacists in England are reluctant to give the original brands due to costs. Which I find shocking when it’s for a child who’s brain is still developing.
    Constantly giving our vulnerable children different brands which all have different chemical ingredients is discusting, when the costs are so dramatically different they are obviously cutting corners somewhere to the detriment of everyone’s health.

  20. J
    Australia
    Reply

    My script: 150mg Effexor XR 1 per day.
    Taking effexor for around 5 years.

    Most of the time, I was taking the generic Apotex Venlafaxine XR 150MG. As it’s slightly cheaper.
    Have had no reaction to having generic in the past. Have used both Pfizer effexor xr and Apotex venlafaxine XR interchangeably with no issue. Often due to the chemist running of generic and swapped me to name brand.

    Ranbaxy/Sun are the company that makes products for Apotex in Australia. They make generic Effexor, Venlafaxine XR .

    Refilled script 2.5 weeks ago, have been taking nightly with evening meal.
    The past 2.5 weeks, I have had severe withdrawal system since refill, as if I’m missing my dose.
    Headaches, throbbing pain.
    Dizzy, swimming brain feeling
    Anxiety symptoms
    Racing heart rate and slightly increased blood pressure.

    Saw Doctor, she advised to switch immediately to Effexor, saw chemist and made switch.
    Thanks to Australian Medicare PBS the price difference is negligible. Approx $25 to $30 for 30days, for either generic or name brand.

    If you feel the same, or having doubts…
    I recommend see your doc and switch to the Pfizer Effexor for the time being, if you can.
    I have lost all trust in generics generally now. When 6 months ago I was the one recommending them to my family/friends.
    I hope the FDA can figure this out, as Australia’s TGA usually just follows the FDA.

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