NEW YORK, N.Y. — Medications made in China and India come with the potential of coming to the U.S. contaminated according to a former U.S. Food and Drug inspector. NBC Newsreports that drugs exported from China and India have an elevated chance of being contaminated by carcinogenic substances. The FDA will recall tainted drugs if the agency learns about possible contaminants.
A New Jersey woman explained the shock she experienced when she learned that the blood pressure medication she took for four years, identified by the generic name valsartan, was made with a chemical linked to causing cancer that was also once an active ingredient in rocket fuel. She learned about the recall when she received a letter from her pharmacy with the phrase “Urgent Recall” scrawled in red font across the letter.
A former FDA inspector was not as surprised. The inspector told NBC News that he tried to get the attention of regulators for a full year to advocate for the FDA to issue a recall. The inspector found that manufacturing plants in China and India that produced the active ingredients for the generic blood pressure medication contained systemic failures. The inspector said that the problems that these two plants had are rampant in drug manufacturing plants in Asia.
The NBC News article highlights an increasing trend in pharmaceutical manufacturing. U.S. drug manufacturing companies are purchasing as much as 85% of all of the ingredients for its medicines from China and India. The domestic companies save money when they purchase ingredients from overseas because manufacturing and labor costs are much lower. Additionally, governmental regulations are much less strict in these countries when compared to the U.S.
Approximately 45 blood pressure medications have been recalled over the last year including generic drugs such as losartan and irbesartan along with the valsartan. U.S. regulators say they traced the active ingredients in the recalled drugs to manufacturing plants overseas. The problem stems from U.S. inspectors’ inability to inspect foreign plants with the same level of scrutiny as they are allowed to in U.S. manufacturing facilities.
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