Should drugs be labeled with their country of origin? Plenty of people have asked that question since the big heparin flap--in which hundreds of patients experienced severe reactions, even death, after using Baxter's blood thinner--exposed contamination problems in the drug's Chinese supply chain. Rep. John Dingell's plan (discussed here)Â endorses it. But because drug supply chains are so complex, winding through multiple countries, how would they be labeled? What info would be meaningful to consumers?
Drug companies are using this opportunity to say consumers should be alert to counterfeit products from outside the U.S. In other words, they're saying, buying your meds from countries where they're sold more cheaply could be dangerous. Never mind that the heparin that caused all the ruckus wasn't that sort of counterfeit, but distributed in the U.S. by a U.S. company--so consumers could have watched all day for signs of counterfeiting and never seen them. In fact, the signs were so subtle, it took a high-tech testÂ to expose them.
Even consumer watchdog Public Citizen isn't convinced that "made in China" or "active ingredient sourced in India" would be meaningful for patients, though. It's just one more facet of the import-safety debate without a clear solution.
- read the Wall Street Journal article
China: Buyers on hook for drug safety. Report
Overseas drugmaking goes unsupervised. Report
Counterfeiters lurk in free trade zones. Report
Counterfeit drugs plaguing Big Pharma. Report