FDA Fails to Protect Domestic Drug Supply
By William Faloon
FDA Fails to Protect Consumers
This story provides yet another example of how the FDA places the profits of drug companies and wholesalers above the health of the American consumer. The FDA has the authority to go after the counterfeiters and prosecute them aggressively. However, doing so would expose the current lack of safety to the glare of publicity, showing that the agency is not doing its job despite its power to do so. Far better to cast negative aspersions on the safety of imported drugs and allege that the supposed dangers are so great that we must construct a protective wall around our borders, within which pharmaceutical companies can charge a king’s ransom for drugs available at a fraction of the price overseas.
When the author of Dangerous Doses called the public relations director of a major drug company to inform him that numerous lots of his company’s lifesaving drug had been relabeled to appear 20 times their actual strength and that a licensed distributor was suspected of trafficking in counterfeit versions of that same medicine, his response was, “I’d hate to have you short the stock [try to profit from a decline in the share price] because of these local and contained incidents.”2 This outrageous response professes not anger at the possible contamination and threat to public health, but concern about a possible financial loss if word of the counterfeiting problem were to get out. Obviously, this executive’s fear about the value of his stock options trumped any concern that people could suffer and perhaps die because of incidents that are by no means “local and contained.”
It is bad enough that Americans have to pay an arm and a leg in the US for drugs that can be purchased for less money in Canada and Europe. Now, due to the investigative reporting in Dangerous Doses and the diligent efforts of Florida investigators, we are finding that drugs we purchase in the US may actually be more dangerous than those the FDA says we should not obtain from abroad.
The FDA pretends to protect consumers against contaminated drugs, but the sordid facts do not support this self-serving assertion. FDA complicity has enabled criminals to get potentially dangerous drugs into our local pharmacies.
For longer life,
1. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/fdac/features/2002/502_import.html. Accessed May 18, 2005.
2. Eban K. Dangerous Doses: How Counterfeiters Are Contaminating America’s Drug Supply. Orlando, FL: Harcourt, Inc; 2005.