Heparin and the importance of prescription drug safetyposted Wed, 15 Jun 2011
Prescription drug safety has been in the news quite a bit lately. A jury just awarded $625,000 to the estate of a man who died after receiving doses of a contaminated prescription drug.
The drug in question was heparin, a blood thinner made by Baxter International. A few years back, dosages of heparin sickened hundreds of people and likely contributed to the deaths of 149 more. The cause was traced to a contaminated ingredient from China.
According to a Government Accountability Office report from 2007, 80 percent of active pharmaceutical ingredients come from countries outside of the U.S. Increasingly, ingredients are sourced from countries like India and China.
Earlier this spring, the Pew Charitable Trusts hosted a conference titled “After Heparin” that addressed the topic of global manufacturing of prescription drugs and overall drug safety. Gabriel Levitt, Vice President of PharmacyChecker.com and RxRights Coalition member, was invited to attend.
The conference highlighted the problems of the U.S. prescription drug supply, and its heavy reliance on imported active pharmaceutical ingredients from overseas plants, most of which have never been inspected by the FDA.
The conference had a worthy goal: to come up with solutions to the problem of substandard and counterfeit medications entering the drug supply. Pew has plans to draft a final paper based on the conference. RxRights will report back to our readers once we see it.
Our sincere hope that the Pew report includes personal drug importation that is fair and balanced and that makes distinctions between safe, personal drug importation from verified, online pharmacies and the problem of rogue/dangerous pharmacy sites.
In addition, the report should include a section about drug affordability. This is critical because as we’ve said before, a prescription drug that people can’t afford is neither safe nor effective.