Foreign meds, quality control

In the past year, several major foreign pharmaceutical companies have been forced to recall thousands of medications sold in the United States. The problems with their products were myriad, including packaging defects, dosage errors, and bacterial contamination. In one especially egregious instance, epilepsy medications were found in a bottle of diabetes drugs, resulting in the recall of more than 2,000 bottles produced by a company based in India.

Given these dangerous errors, it's little wonder that American physicians are growing increasingly worried about the safety of prescription medications imported from foreign pharmaceutical companies. Compromised medications jeopardize the health of their patients.

We must strengthen America's "pharmacovigilance." The federal government should bulk up its drug import oversight apparatus and implement a tracking system that monitors the entire life cycle of medications.

Right now, 40 percent of America's over-the-counter and generic drugs come from Indian suppliers. The World Health Organization has estimated that around 20 percent of the drugs manufactured in that country are counterfeit.
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