Thursday, February 20, 2014

Counterfeit Meds in America

While outrage over antibiotics in chicken or beef grab headlines, critical questions about antibiotics and other meds taken by us human folk here in America point to an even more grim reality.

2004 saw the closure of the last American plant making such vital medicine. Fearing FDA oversight, companies fled overseas, so that today most antibiotics and key ingredients in other medicines are made in India and China - not a bad thing in itself, but now we find the meds you take may be fake at best, deadly at worst.

In truth many big pharma makers in India do a fine job. We know little about China since they won't let FDA folks examine their facilities.

Recent reports ( here and here) highlight deeply troubling trends:

-- The World Health Organization estimated that one in five drugs made in India are fakes. A 2010 survey of New Delhi pharmacies found that 12 percent of sampled drugs were spurious.

-- One widely used antibiotic was found to contain no active ingredient after being randomly tested in a government lab. The test was kept secret for nearly a year while 100,000 useless pills continued to be dispensed.
More tests of hospital medicines found dozens more that were substandard, including a crucial intravenous antibiotic used in sick infants.

-- India’s pharmaceutical industry supplies 40 percent of over-the-counter and generic prescription drugs consumed in the United States.

-- One federal database lists nearly 3,000 overseas drug plants that export to the United States; the other lists 6,800 plants. Nobody knows which is right.
Drug labels often claim that the pills are manufactured in the United States, but the listed plants are often the sites where foreign-made drug powders are pounded into pills and packaged.

-- Imports rule in America as we receive  80 percent of the seafood consumed in the United States, 50 percent of the fresh fruit, 20 percent of the vegetables and the vast majority of drugs, all originate overseas.

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