Healthcare Part XV – More Trade and Buyer Beware

An increased amount of our pharmaceutical supply chain begins in China, sometimes as finished generic drugs, or medical supply items (diabetic testing strips) and often as pharm component chemicals. The big push to generics has created a bigger push for low costs.

There is a huge problem.

Apparently the same guys who do quality control for lead-painted toys do so for the Chinese pharm industry (sarcasm intended).

The FDA has been warning about deficient and counterfeit diabetic testing strips for some time. The consequences can be fatal. Phony or adulterated chemical compounds can as well.

How do you protect yourself from faulty generic drugs? I do not have a clue.

I checked witht he world’s greatest nurse. One safety check she uses is apparence when dealing with patent drugs. She knows what a Vicodin is supposed to look like, and if it comes out of the bottle with the wrong appearance futher inquiries are made.

But as to generics, spotting counterfeits is almost impossible she says. Generic hydrocodone-plus-tylenol (Vicodin) will look different depending on the manufacturer.

So what’s a consumer to do?

Deal with a pharmacy you know and trust.

If you are not certain about something, ask questions.

If you have serious side effects for reasons known or unknown, seek medical help immediately.

Be very wary of mail order (if you get your meds through your employer’s pharm benefit manager you are probably safer than personal Internet shopping).

As to genuine generics made with faulty chemical compounds, a lab is required.

The most likely impact of shoddy drugs is the drugs do not work as predicted. Less likely is that you end up in ICU or dead. Be careful.