HOPKINS HEALTH WATCH QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
With Drug Production Outsourced, is There Such a Thing as Quality Control?
Q: My husband and I vacation in Mexico every winter, and while there we stock up our medicine cabinet basics and a few prescriptions, which saves us hundreds of dollars. Every now and then I read a warning that drugs from Mexico might not be the real thing. Can you confirm this?
A: It’s true, drugs from Mexico may not be the real thing. But drugs bought in the U.S. may not be either. Increasingly, pharmaceutical drugs purchased in the U.S. are made in China and other developing countries. Few of the plants have been inspected by the FDA, and few of the drugs are checked for safety and purity when they’re brought into the U.S. This point was brought home last spring (2008) when contaminated heparin from China caused at least 80 deaths in the U.S., and hundreds of severe adverse reactions were reported (meaning thousands of people were probably affected).
For the scary details on drug production in China, read The Safety Gap, an article by Gardiner Harris in the New York Times. What makes this ironic, if not funny, is that for years the FDA has been discouraging Americans from buying their prescription drugs at drastically lower prices in Canada and Mexico for fear those drugs might be fakes or contaminated. Now it seems the FDA has little to no control over the quality of drugs sold in the U.S. One more reason to avoid prescription drugs whenever possible.
For detailed information about prescription drug side effects and interactions, and natural alternatives to prescription drugs, please read the book Prescription Alternatives.