In January of this year, CNN reported that Torrent Pharmaceuticals had expanded their recall for medication used to treat diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease. Similarly, Aurobindo Pharma USA also recalled medication used to treat heart failure and high blood pressure. These recalls affected patients in Louisiana and all across America who were currently taking the medication to manage various health conditions.
What was the reason for the recalls? Testing of the medication found trace amounts of N-nitrosodiethylamine. This is a suspected cause of cancer in humans and other animals. In fact, it is a lubricant additive used in gasoline.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration were the first to notice the cariogenic contaminant last summer after conducting its own tests. While the FDA believes the risk for developing cancer after taking these medications is low, it nonetheless illustrates the harmful effects patients may face when unknowingly taking defective drugs.
In spite of these and other recalls, Forbes acknowledges that for the most part, medications in the United States are reasonably safe as far as meeting FDA-requirements. The main reason for this is a dual system of monitoring. Nevertheless, one problem Forbes identifies with this system is that while it increases safety, it also increases inefficiency due to unnecessary overlaps. This directly contributes to the rising cost of health care.
However, one aspect not explored in the Forbes article is what patients tend to do when they cannot access affordable health care. Desperate patients may turn to off-brand options, purchase foreign imports on the black market or sign up to be a part of clinical test trials. While clinical trials at least do further the medical industry for everyone, it puts those patients at a significantly greater risk.
Thus, one of the harmful effects of defective drugs is the cost and the resulting risks patients may undertake to overcome it. This is due to the additional investment governments must make to reduce the likelihood of defective products making it to the market, such as those mentioned from Torrent and Aurobindo Pharma. While the US government should absolutely regulate the safety of pharmaceutical products, Forbes’ call for a more cost-efficient system might be worth considering.