By Angel Lizardi |Staff Writer|
Eighty percent of the active pharmaceutical ingredients in drugs imported to America are actually manufactured in other countries.
About 40 percent of the finished drugs are coming from other countries, according to Dr. Margaret Hamburg, Food and Drug Administration’s commissioner.
In a radio interview with NPR’s Diane Rehm, Hamburg addressed the matters and said that it was the FDA’s “global responsibility” to make sure that all medicine is heavily monitored.
“Today the FDA must behave like a global agency with a global mission because the products we regulate for the promotion and protection of health of Americans here at home depends on the quality and safety of products that are now coming from all over the world,” said Hamburg.
Also on the show was New York Times writer Gardner Harris, who was calling in from New Dehli, India, a large supplier of pharmaceutical medicine, had many safety concerns in regards to their regulations.
Gardner mentioned that since the FDA had received an extra $300 million to increase the inspections on pharmaceutical plants across the globe, the Indians were surprised by the FDA visits.
Aside from the export topic, Harris also claims that there is a security issue as an exponential amount of pharmaceuticals also come from China.
“A second and arguably just as important issue is the security issue […] We are getting all of our steroid medicine—if you go down the list of medicines that are absolutely essential in hospital settings, and nearly all of them have their crucial ingredients coming from China,” said Harris.
“Were we to get into a bad situation with China and some of these imports were to stop, our health care system would collapse fairly quickly, and no one is addressing this,” continued Harris.
Allan Couckell, a member of the PEW Charitable trusts, which focuses on drug manufacturing and drug quality control, also believes in more stringent laws.
“Beginning a couple of years ago in the wake of a tragic contamination of a blood thinner called Heparin, we became involved in the issue,” said Couckell.
Herapin, a blood thinner that was contaminated with an ingredient which affected the way it tested with the patients negatively, made its way into the U.S. from China.
Couckell claims that it was a deliberate attempt to make money.
“That was not just a case of a lapse in quality standards. That was somewhere somebody deliberately substituting a low-cost ingredient for economic gain,” said Couckell.
Students were surprised at the fact that our country wasn’t the main distributor of pharmaceutical drugs.
Rita Kakish, a student, said that she would like to know where our antibiotics are made.
“If our antibiotics were made here, under stringent regulations, the quality of the product would be better,” said Kakish.