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

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Female feticide in Canada requires action

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

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

Seniors successfully withdraw from meds

Sep 19, 2014

Elderly people have proved receptive to being de-prescribed medications, as part of a trial aimed at assessing the feasibility of withdrawal of medications among older people.

Flu vaccine for expectant moms a top priority

Sep 18, 2014

Only about half of all pregnant women in the U.S. get a flu shot each season, leaving thousands of moms-to-be and their babies at increased risk of serious illness.

Experts want restrictions on testosterone drug use (Update)

Sep 17, 2014

Federal health experts said Wednesday there is little evidence that testosterone-boosting drugs are effective for treating common signs of aging in men and that their use should be narrowed to exclude millions of Americans ...

User comments