Life Extension Magazine September 2013
As We See It
Horrific Conditions Inside Drug Factories
By William Faloon
Potential Lethal Impact of Glaxo’s Abhorrent Lack of Quality Control
One can only imagine the problems that would occur if a depressed individual took a powerful anti-diabetic drug like Avandia, which could inflict acute hypoglycemia. A former employee identified nine instances where the wrong pills were sold, including Avandia® mixed in packages of over-the-counter antacids like Tagamet®.36
For chemotherapy patients who are immune compromised, they could have easily succumbed to an infection without their oncologists ever suspecting it was linked to the anti-nausea drug Kytril, which was not tested to ensure it was free of microbial contamination.
No Jail Time for Glaxo Executives
Glaxo denies that any patients were ever harmed by the adulterated drugs they distributed in the United States and also denied that these kinds of problems occurred at its other drug factories.
No one from Glaxo faced criminal charges. I again remind readers that Jay Kimball, who sold a clean product that harmed no one, remains in federal prison. One difference is that Jay Kimball had no money for an attorney and had to represent himself in court (or render himself insolvent defending against FDA’s prejudicial accusations). Pharmaceutical behemoths like Glaxo, on the other hand, spend virtually unlimited money on lobbyists and lawyers and have not faced personal criminal liability for the misdeeds they allowed.
Reputation in Lieu of Regulation
One reason why horrific quality issues occur at pharmaceutical companies is that few consumers know who makes their prescription drugs.
When your doctor writes a prescription, you take it to your pharmacy and usually get a brown-colored bottle with pills inside. Seldom is the manufacturer’s name stated on the bottle.
Drug companies can thus run their manufacturing facilities with reckless abandon with little reputational risk.
Dietary supplement companies, on the other hand, prominently state their name on the labels of their products.
In a more sensibly-regulated environment, better-operated pharmaceutical companies would prosper as their reputation for quality control became known. Unfortunately, today’s Orwellian regulatory structure has created utter chaos, with retail pharmacies not knowing which generic manufacturer is going to make which generic drug at any given time.
Since we established the Life Extension Pharmacy™ six years ago, we have learned how dangerous the prescription drug marketplace has become, with counterfeiting, shortages, and quality problems more rampant than reported by the media.
We would prefer that pharmaceutical companies place a higher value on their reputation and instill better quality standards.
Instead, regulatory burdens are so cumbersome that quality control takes a back seat to pleasing bureaucrats who wield unbridled power, but lack the competency to recognize catastrophic problems as occurred with the contaminated steroids made by NECC.
How Much More FDA Failure Will Americans Tolerate?
In 1906, a book called The Jungle was published that described appalling conditions inside America’s meat packing industry. The revelations in this book resulted in the establishment of federal laws that mandated standards of strength, purity, and quality of foods and drugs.
Conditions inside some of America’s drug factories are eerily similar to those described in The Jungle, yet the FDA has been around for more than 100 years! How much longer is the public expected to wait before the FDA effectively spends its $4 billion annual budget on real consumer protection, as opposed to threatening walnut and cherry growers for claiming health benefits of their foods?
No matter how many times the FDA fails to protect consumers against contaminated drugs, there are no calls for meaningful reform.
Instead of recognizing FDA ineptitude, cries ring out to give the FDA more money and power…as Americans perish from contaminated drugs the FDA had the authority to stop!
No Free Market!
What the public doesn’t yet understand is that contaminated drugs are the result of draconian regulations that limit free market competition. By restricting drug making to only those controlled by incompetent bureaucrats, the inevitable result will be shortages, poor quality, and high prices.
As I write this article, one of the challenges in dealing with the NECC catastrophe is that there may be new shortages of injectable drugs because there are not enough drug factories in the US to meet patient demand. Shortages create opportunities for unsavory companies to dump even greater amounts of overpriced and contaminated drugs into the bodies of unsuspecting victims.
This kind of problem would not continue in a free market, but ever-increasing regulations are exacerbating the problems of drug shortages, deadly manufacturing practices, and obscenely high prices.
You’ll read in this month’s issue about the quality-control standards we at Life Extension insist on. Unlike those involved in pharmaceutical manufacturing, I and most everyone else at Life Extension consume these nutrients ourselves and would never tolerate the deplorable conditions that exist in certain American drug factories today.
For longer life,
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