In a shocking story in yesterday’s Toronto Star, reporters David Bruiser and Jesse McLean uncovered how Canadian drug companies have been knowingly selling defective drugs to consumers across Canada.
The Star investigative reporters discovered that some 40 Canadian drug companies have been cited for serious manufacturing offenses since 2008, include; hiding, altering, or even destroying data that showed their products were tainted or unsafe, as well as not reporting side-effects experienced by patients taking the medications.
Why is it that Canadians are completely unaware of these infractions?
Alarmingly, these violations were outlined in a report obtained via the American Food and Drug Association (FDA) and not by Health Canada. Health Canada was aware of, but didn’t inform the public about numerous deficiencies discovered during routine inspections, including; Apotex pharma employees in India not reporting doctored bacterial test results, Taro pharmaceuticals in Brampton leaving medications on the shelves despite knowing they deteriorated far before their expiration date, and Cangene Corporation in Winnipeg not reporting serious adverse effects like blot clots and fever to authorities.
The situation gets worse when its revealed that drugs and specific ingredients that are banned from the United States have been allowed to enter the Canadian market. In response to these findings, Health Canada has said it first needs to consult with the drug companies before publicly disclosing information, which FDA inspectors call “absolutely absurd” and that it “puts consumers [Canadians] at risk”.
As much as 20% of all drugs prescribed in Canada are produced overseas in India and China. Health Canada doesn’t regularly investigate foreign manufacturers, but rather relies on the reports of other health regulating agencies. This practice seems to put Canadians at direct risk of potential harm from these tainted medications.
Even more troubling, Health Canada gave the Apotex facility in Bangalore, India a “pass” score, while seven months previous and four months later the FDA uncovered blatant and repeated problems, including manipulating data and re-testing until results were favourable. The FDA has since banned Apotex, and another generic giant Ranbaxy, from the US market.
At what point do we say enough is enough? In Canada, fifty cents of every dollar goes into funding the healthcare system. Canadians put faith in their medical system to treat them safely and protect them from harm. However, the current system directly endangers all those taking medications that come from overseas. I suppose the ultimate question is how can the FDA easily discover these blatant manufacturing shortcomings, yet Health Canada seems to be turning a blind eye?
Hopefully, we’ll soon have some answers. In the meantime, doing your best to stay healthy and off medications, if possible, is the only way to truly minimize your risk.
Yours in health,
Dr. Marc Bubbs ND