Most prescription drugs manufactured overseas—are they safe?

Most pharmaceutical drugs in Canada are manufactured overseas in countries such as India, China and others, yet how can we be confident the drug supply is safe, writes a drug policy researcher in an opinion piece in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Alarmed by alerts about potentially harmful products such as nonprescription erectile dysfunction drugs with names like Uprizing 2.0 and Ying Da Wang—most from overseas—Alan Cassels began to think about sold in Canada. Are they safe? Who regulates them?

"Most Canadians probably don't know that many of our pharmaceuticals come from places like India and China," writes Cassels. "How often do our regulators dust off their passports and fly to China or India to ensure that the plants producing pharmaceuticals are clean, follow proper manufacturing techniques and contain what is on the label (and nothing else)?"

He was unable to find out much from Health Canada because information about inspections is not public.

"This situation doesn't leave me with the warm fuzzies," he writes. "Especially when we're dealing with—how can I say this nicely—a federal agency that refuses to even enforce the laws against illegal on a bus shelter at the end of my street?"

More information: www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.120416

Related Stories

Female feticide in Canada requires action

date Jan 16, 2012

Canada should prohibit disclosure of the sex of a fetus until after 30 weeks of pregnancy to combat female feticide which is practised by some ethnic groups in Canada and the United States, states an editorial in CMAJ (Canad ...

Pharmaceutical intellectual property laws need reform

date Nov 07, 2011

Canada's pharmaceutical intellectual property laws need major reform to encourage and protect innovation in developing new drugs, states an analysis in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Recommended for you

US aims to cut antibiotic use

date Mar 27, 2015

US President Barack Obama on Friday rolled out plans to cut inappropriate antibiotic use by half, in an effort to tackle drug resistance.

Questions over value of new antibiotics to tackle resistance

date Mar 26, 2015

In the first installment of a new series, Peter Doshi, Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy and Associate Editor at The BMJ, asks why authorities are approving drugs with little evidence they d ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.