First off, this is not a blog about trade wars! I adhere to the philosophy of not blogging about religion, politics or sex—and today is no exception—but, with so much in the news about trade tariffs, my pharmaceutical mind went to the question of where our prescription drugs originate.
Those prescription drugs in your medicine cabinet are purchased from various and sundry pharmacies (online pharmacies, mail order, corner drug stores, etc), but how and where do those pharmacies acquire their drugs? They usually buy them from a drug supplier called a drug wholesaler. Many large chain pharmacies, however, now order them from centralized, company-owned warehouses.
But, where do THOSE drug wholesalers or central warehouses get their medications from? Good question! It’s possible that there may be yet another wholesale middleman before we can say that those warehoused drugs are bought from a pharmaceutical manufacturer.
The supply chain of prescription drugs that ends with your prescriptions dispensed at the store level can be very complex and that supply chain often takes an international route before ending up in consumer hands.
Are prescription drugs sold in the United States even made in the United States? How about Canada? Do Canadian pharmacies stock only drugs actually made in Canada? Those questions are again complex with no simple answer.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) generally defines a specific drug’s country of origin as ONLY the final stop in the manufacturing process where the ingredients are actually combined into a pill, capsule, patch or solution—or even packaged in the final container. Studies show that more than three quarters of the active ingredients of a drug (the specific substance that actually causes a prescription to produce a therapeutic effect) are manufactured mainly in India and China.
Per FDA guidelines, drug companies are required only to list the name and their business address on the label. Therefore, a US-based pharmaceutical company could list a US name and address for a finished drug product even though the active ingredients, or the drug itself, was made overseas.
That means your common cholesterol-lowering medications, even the more expensive brand-name ones made in the US, may contain ingredients actually made in manufacturing plants in India, China and elsewhere. Estimates are that up to 80% of the active ingredients of even brand name medications are manufactured in India and China.
Furthermore, some of the most commonly used generic medications are now completed into finished products in other countries, and India and China are where most of those drug manufacturing plants are located. Generic drugs make up almost 90% of the prescription medications consumed in the US and Canada, and nearly 40% are made in India alone and shipped in.
My point here is that prescription medications are an international commodity, especially generic drugs, and the medications you take every single day may well be affected by any change in trade policy.
I won’t discuss the pros and cons of generic drugs here. I wrote a blog a long time ago about this. Click HERE to see that blog. I believe most generic medications are safe to use. I take some of those medications myself from time to time, but I readily admit that oversight of the overseas manufacturing plants is not as stringent as those on the North American continent.
As examples of what can go terribly wrong in some international manufacturing plants and the lethal ripple effect that can happen anywhere all along the drug distribution chain, you can read my novels Lethal Medicine and Imperfect Murder.
Both are in my Jon Masters international thriller series. I’m proud that both have received great reviews on Amazon, and one of those actually freaked out my editor as she worked on polishing that manuscript. Maybe they’ll give you a thrill as well, or maybe even some goose bumps, if you read them.
Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!
I’d also love for you to read my novels ~ Great Entertainment!
Order Lethal Medicine HERE and Imperfect Murder HERE.
Considering that medications are a life or death commodity for many, it’s worrying that so much is made overseas where our ties are not as strong as they once were.
Yes, that can be a concern and could impact medication pricing and possibly even availability. There are already shortages in some key medication categories that I have written about in the past, not specifically related to trade but to production issues in manufacturing plants.
Thanks for your comments – Always appreciated!
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