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Tainted Pills Hit US Mainland 162

Posted by kdawson
from the time-for-some-yellow-journalism dept.
Tech.Luver notes an AP story on tainted pills that have arrived in the US from — not China this time — Puerto Rico. The article details a disturbing number of incidents of contamination investigated by the FDA over the last few years. "The first warning sign came when a sharp-eyed worker sorting pills noticed that the odd blue flecks dotting the finished drug capsules matched the paint on the factory doors. After the flecks were spotted again on the capsules, a blood-pressure medication called Diltiazem, the plant began placing covers over drugs in carts in its manufacturing areas. But the factory owner, Canadian drug maker Biovail Corp., never tried to find out whether past shipments of the drug were contaminated — or prevent future contamination, according to US regulators... FDA officials say the problems in Puerto Rico are proportionate with the large number of pharmaceutical plants here and generally no worse than those on the US mainland."
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Tainted Pills Hit US Mainland

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  • More like Bioveil...
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @08:47PM (#22315584) Journal
    Ok, so let's keep ripping on those foreign drugs even though the article mentions several times that this is also a problem on the mainland. It mentions several times that Puerto Rico is the epicenter of drug plants, shouldn't it have a higher number of incidences? Do they even do a ratio of incidences to plant comparisons. Honestly, they're under FDA inspection, just like all the U.S. plants.

    Tainted Pills Hit US Mainland
    How about a title more like "Tainted Foreign Pills Meet Tainted Pill Level Requirements on Mainland." What's the matter? Not quite as hard hitting and blood boiling at those damned cheap non-U.S. labor supporting foreign pills killing somebody?

    So you know, considering that most paint today is safe enough to use as a food coloring, in sunscreen or even toothpaste [wikipedia.org], I would prefer my elderly grandma consume the paint flecks accidentally with her medication instead of not being able to afford the medication.

    So where's the story here? These paint flecks kill somebody? You want the FDA to get anal retentive on your medications, fine. Just realize those expensive drugs are going to get a little more expensive and sick people who are poor might not be able to afford them anymore.

    Honestly I've heard of worse things being found in food than this.
    • by dj.delorie (3368) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @08:56PM (#22315698) Homepage
      Puerto Rico is part of the USA. It's not foreign drugs they're talking about, its *domestic* drugs.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Puerto Rico is part of the USA.
        RTFA, the article said the company selling the drugs is Canadian:

        But the factory owner, Canadian drug maker Biovail Corp...
        Sounds like those foreign drugs everyone is crossing the border to purchase.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Froster (985053)
          Not quite. It takes a great deal of effort to sell drugs in the US market, and part of that is either FDA supervision of a Canadian or other foreign plant, or to make the drugs under US jurisdiction. In the case of Biovail, they chose the latter option. They chose that to be able to sell those drugs in the US. Otherwise, they could continue to produce drugs in Canada as they otherwise would have.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by palegray.net (1195047)
          Wait... foreign companies, producing drugs at American facilities, for sale in foreign countries, that are illegal to buy in America... my head hurts. I think I need some drugs.
        • Whatever... When I was in Puerto Rico last year the tour guide was very proud to point out that the majority of prescription drugs sold in the US are made there. All the major players make their stuff there. The fact that Q/C broke down in a particular factory has nothing to do with the location. It's not like they purposely painted the pills with lead paint or anything.
      • and is not part of the United States of America (neither are Navassa Island, the US Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Baker Island, Guam, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, Midway Atoll, the Northern Mariana Islands or Wake Atoll). It is a commonwealth, and a US insular area [doi.gov].
      • by BloodAngel_Au (449499) <jason AT oranadisability DOT com> on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @09:52PM (#22316150)
        Interesting Fact
        The term "United States" when used in a geographical sense on official documents, acts and/or laws; includes the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa.

        The U.S. has twelve unincorporated territories, also known as possessions, and two commonwealths. The major possessions are American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. All of these have a non-voting representative in the U.S. Congress. The major commonwealths are Puerto Rico and the Northern Marianas. Commonwealths have their own constitutions and greater autonomy than possessions, and Guam is currently in the process of moving from the status of unincorporated territory to commonwealth. The residents of all of these places are full U.S. citizens, with the exception of those on American Samoa who are U.S. nationals, but not citizens.

        U.S. Commonwealths/Territories include: American Samao (AS), Baker Island*, Howland Island*, Guam (GU), Jarvis Island*, Johnston Atoll*, Kingman Reef*, Midway Islands, Navassa Island*, Northern Mariana Islands (MP), Palau (PW), Palmyra Atoll*, Puerto Rico (PR), U.S. Virgin Islands (St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas) (VI), and Wake Island*.

        Puerto Rico has its own Olympic team and competes in the Miss Universe pageant as an independent nation.

        * Uninhabited

        quoted from http://welcome.topuertorico.org/government.shtml [topuertorico.org]

        So, you have it correct dj. I'm sure this will suprise a few people, considering when most mention USA, they think of the mainland, hawaii & alaska. I know I did.
        • by heybo (667563)
          Let's not forget about Indian Reservations. They are not part of the "United States" but land held (seized) "In Trust" by the US Government. Tribes are still Nations. I don't think you could call us Foreign Nations either. You are right there is a lot more to the US than just the States.
      • by mqduck (232646)

        Puerto Rico is part of the USA.
        There are lots of Puerto Ricans who would be willing to fight you on that. And most USAmericans would disagree too. And anyone who is opposed to colonialism (like myself and Thomas Jefferson) would be thoroughly opposed to that statement (unless you include along with it the demand that PR be recognized as the 51st state).
    • You do realize that Puerto Rico is part of the US, right? That's why they say "mainland" and don't say "foreign" in the summary. What this really shows is that factories everywhere can fuck up.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You want the FDA to get anal retentive on your medications, fine

      That's the thing. When you look, you find stuff that may or may not be relevant or a problem: take the foam issues with the shuttle. Who knows if all of the insulation issues are actually threatening or not, they didn't start looking until after the last one blew up, so there's no way of knowing if the foam always cracked up or not.

      The alternative is not looking at all, and I'd trust the drug companies even less in that situation.
      • by sumdumass (711423)
        Well, sort of. The tests done on the foam initially was when the manufacturing process made use of some CFCs. The process had been changed but the foam was supposedly certified to be the same quality so there weren't any more extensive tests other then to see the differences in the properties.

        Last I heard, it turns out that there is a small difference in the cohesion which causes the new style of foam to fall in larger chunks with more of a cascade effect then the original versions. Evidently, while the foa
    • by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @09:06PM (#22315814) Homepage Journal
      You're missing a significant issue. If paint flecks can get in, what else is getting in there? Why would you have any confidence in the quality of the pills if they can't be bothered to actually control what actually gets in there?

      I for one don't think it's expensive on a per-pill basis to keep a plant like that clean, they should have been clean in the first place.
    • by TubeSteak (669689) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @09:11PM (#22315850) Journal

      You want the FDA to get anal retentive on your medications, fine. Just realize those expensive drugs are going to get a little more expensive and sick people who are poor might not be able to afford them anymore.
      I'd love it for the FDA to get anal retentive about inspection regimes.

      If you knew anything about the pharma industry, most of those expensive drugs cost next to nothing to manufacture. The sick and poor can usually get subsidised/free drugs through pharma company programs.

      The high retail price of drugs bears almost no relation to its cost, partially because the drug industry spends more on advertising than R&D, but mostly because the market will bear it.

      I can't really think of anything other than vaccines that pharma companies sell without a crazy profit margin. Can you?
      • Pretty much all generic drugs are sold without a crazy profit margin, since there's a competitive free market in the manufacture of generics.

        For brand name drugs, good business sense would dictate that they set the profit margin wherever it nets them the highest total profit - too high and not enough people will buy it, too low and they don't make as much as they could per pill, but if they get it just right they make the most money. Apparently there is enough demand for some of these drugs in the curre
        • by timmarhy (659436) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @10:48PM (#22316542)
          common misconception.

          health issues aren't ruled by supply and demand, especially on brand name drugs since the supplier can artifically restrict the supply without fear of competition. it's not like someone dieing has any choice (what price do you put on life?) and drug companies exploit this.

          capitalism is a decent system. but it's not an answer to everything, and one of those things is health care.

          • by sumdumass (711423)
            I agree. Many things should be considered a utility more then a market. Gas, Home heating oil, electricity, Public water, Medication and so on. There should be no or little market force on them outside the costs to deliver the products.

            Utility seems to be a generic term I like to use. But I like to use it because it is the one thing in a capitalist society that people don't mind regulating the profit margins of. We should be including Gas to some extent and medication into those groups. Medication for the r
            • by sjames (1099)

              Of all of the things you mentioned, medication has the least elastic demand of all. Even home heating has an elasticity to it since you can (however undesirable) turn the thermostat way down and wear a coat to reduce use. Gasoline can be conserved through carpooling, cutting out unnecessary trips, and in some cases teleworking and walking.

              OTOH, if you need life saving medical care, you have no viable alternatives. Taking it every other day or taking half doses may be worse than not taking it at all.

              Capi

              • by sumdumass (711423)

                Of all of the things you mentioned, medication has the least elastic demand of all. Even home heating has an elasticity to it since you can (however undesirable) turn the thermostat way down and wear a coat to reduce use. Gasoline can be conserved through carpooling, cutting out unnecessary trips, and in some cases teleworking and walking.

                Well, not to the extent your wanting to make it. Sure you can turn the heat down but what is a reasonable amount? I mean if you got kids and are keeping the house at 50

                • by sjames (1099)

                  Sure. But lets compare apples to apples and not skew the situation. The vast majority of medical care doesn't treat life threatening conditions. Pain medication of instance treats a quality of life situation and so on. Not all medication or medical car is life or death and for the purpose of comparing life and death, we need to rule out excess in home heating, gasoline and so on. If your ride doesn't show, you have to make it to work or get fired which means you lose your house or something else that ends

                  • by sumdumass (711423)

                    I can assure you, pain medication can be life saving. Since earning a living is manditory in capitalism (if you like eating), treating a condition that prevents working is no more elastic than a condition that is directly life threatening.

                    well, it is a good thing we don't live in a true capitalist society. Pain medication might mean no work, but then you would be poor and the government already steps in and it becomes a quality of life thing.

                    I don't by any means argue that only healthcare is inelastic o

                    • by sjames (1099)

                      I wasn't educated on their products at all, I made a choice at the recommendation of someone I worked with and found the differences in the quality and costs soon after.

                      What we have here is a terminology problem. Initially, your boot choice was uninformed, then your friend informed you and you made a better choice.

                      If by elasticity, you meaning all the fluff in the layers above, then you might be right

                      More terminology. The fluff is the elastic part. Your demand will stretch and contract based on yo

                    • by sumdumass (711423)

                      What we have here is a terminology problem. Initially, your boot choice was uninformed, then your friend informed you and you made a better choice.

                      But you see, I wasn't fully informed until after owning the boots for a little over a year. I don't think capitalism suffered. And besides, the old boots were adequate if you didn't wear them for long periods of time and perhaps only needed to used them occasionally instead of every workday. Sure becoming informed helped me make a choice but it wasn't determin

          • "what price do you put on life?"

            Let me turn that around for you. What price DO you put on life? Should drugs cost only what it costs to produce? Or should they cost what it's really worth? Keep in mind that the drugs only extend your life if they exist to do so.

            Obviously, the price should land somewhere in between those values. If you know of a better system that capitalism to decide that number, let us know.
            • Wrong question (Score:3, Insightful)

              by hung_himself (774451)

              if you know of a better system that capitalism to decide that number, let us know.

              Essentially, the present system is to publicly (under)fund the difficult work of the basic science and then allow the private sector to patent the discoveries, remove them from the public domain, and massively profit.

              In exchange, they do the technically simple tasks of clinical trials, production and assessing which drugs to release back to the public using the criterion of maximizing profit (eg viagra) rather than the h

              • Not only are you right, but succinct. I can never say that in so few words. Can I copy that and use it later?
              • You do realize that Viagra is an exceptionally poor example of the problem you're trying to illustrate. The story is well known, and pretty much precisely the opposite of your claims. Pfizer was looking for heart medications when they stumbled upon it. Realizing its marketability and the amount of suffering it relieves, they chose to market it.

                An entirely publicly run research effort may very well have decided that a treatment for ED was a luxury, and ceased any effort beyond a note in a database, or an
                • Pfizer was looking for another blood pressure medication - because blood pressure medications make money - people don't get better and they need to take it regularly.

                  You may be right that a publicly run research effort may have decided ED was a luxury but even so - what likely would have happened is what did happen - people testing the drug for hypertension would have reported its side effect and then people would have started using it without big pharma. Google melanotan and PT-141 and tanning if you wan
                  • "to me the money spent marketing Viagra/Levitra/Cialis could have been much better spent on trying to help the 0.5 Billion people who suffer from malaria of which roughly one Chicago's worth of people die each year and for which the best drugs have been developed for the cattle that graze in the sub-Sahara."

                    And again, in that particular case, you're way off the mark. The money spent marketing it is irrelevant precisely because it's a good deal smaller than the profit made from that marketing. That profit
                    • And again, in that particular case, you're way off the mark. The money spent marketing it is irrelevant precisely because it's a good deal smaller than the profit made from that marketing.

                      C'mon, think that one through please. That really is nonsensical. That money was spent - it came from drug sales (and expensed so part of it came from potential tax revenue). It could have been put to better use. The whole sum, not just the profits. If it had been a public enterprise for example, the revenue from drug sa

                    • NIH shouldn't be funding malaria research, since it doesn't affect Americans, who have access to effective mosquito control. If any governmental entity should be, WHO should be funding the lion's share, though.

                      The system is not best which funds all diseases equitably. It is best which provides the most benefit to the most people. It must distribute resources between medical research, medical service, and other sectors which are necessary as well. And even on the research side, while there is certainly r
                    • NIH should be funding the best science period. No one can predict what will lead to what at that stage. If Americans are too shortsighted to realize this, the research and benefits will be and is moving offshore. But the malaria example was not about whether WHO or NIH should fund research but that a rational system *should* encourage some allocation of resources for the world's most prevalent disease.

                      The last mile work *is* fantastically expensive - no argument there *but* it is also fantastically profit
          • by khallow (566160)

            common misconception.

            it's not like someone dieing has any choice (what price do you put on life?) and drug companies exploit this.

            You don't have a choice to avoid death, but in some places like the US you do hav a choice as to how much you spend to stay alive.

            capitalism is a decent system. but it's not an answer to everything, and one of those things is health care.

            Healthcare isn't free market. Most people are in insurance pools funded by employers (and I gather most of these plans are required by law). That means health benefits that at least partially seperate the cost of providing healthcare from the demand for healthcare. Demand will go up when someone else is paying for your healthcare.

        • Remember too that "cheap generic drugs" is a euphemism for "expensive namebrand drugs whose patent has expired".

      • by Reziac (43301) *
        "I can't really think of anything other than vaccines that pharma companies sell without a crazy profit margin."

        Erm... new vaccines have the same crazy profit margin as any other drug that's still under patent. I've seen newly-developed animal vaccines retail for as much as $60 PER DOSE. Ask any horse person how much they had to cough up for West Nile vaccine the past few years, you'll get an earful.

      • The high retail price of drugs bears almost no relation to its cost, partially because the drug industry spends more on advertising than R&D, but mostly because the market will bear it.

        Advertising has little relation to the cost of drugs. Advertising is used for drugs that are competitive, for example $250M spent on Tylenol. The high priced drugs are those where there is no effective alternative, so no advertising is necessary.
        So yes, R&D does have a relation on the cost of medicines, because the

      • by instarx (615765)

        I'd love it for the FDA to get anal retentive about inspection regimes.

        If you knew anything about the pharma industry, [...]

        You are like the pot calling the kettle black when you acuse someone of not knowing anything about the pharmaceutical industry and then make a dumb statement like you'd "love it if the FDA got [strict] about inspections". The FDA is *very* strict about GMPs (Good Manufacturing Practices) in the pharmaceutical industry. What happened here is that the company violated the regulations in 1)allowing the contamination in the first place, 2)not reporting it to the FDA immediately, and 3)not recalling the drug

    • You want the FDA to get anal retentive on your medications, fine.

      Is that where these little pills are coming from?

      Just realize those expensive drugs are going to get a little more expensive and sick people who are poor might not be able to afford them anymore.

      And since pharma companies spend twice as much on advertising as they do on research, it would mean fewer TV commercials to inform "guys like me, with eeee-deee", about the latest penis pills available. I'll have to turn off my spam filters to save my
    • Um, no. One ingredient used as a pigment is also used for those purposes - nothing is said in the linked article about all the other ingredients used in paints.

      So where's the story here? These paint flecks kill somebody? You want the FDA to get anal retentive on your medications, fine. Just realize those expensive drugs are going to get a little more expensive and sick p

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

      You want the FDA to get anal retentive on your medications, fine.

      eldavojohn, I'm with you.

      Considering the fact that the parties that stand to benefit the most from this story are the Big Pharma companies, and considering that 99 percent of all news stories come from press releases put out by flacks, I'm not the least convinced that this isn't part of a FUD campaign to counter even John McCain's willingness to stop Pharmas price-gouging of the US market.

      I'm alive today because of an outrageously expensive

    • Just realize those expensive drugs are going to get a little more expensive and sick people who are poor might not be able to afford them anymore.


      As long as Hilary or Obama wins, the gov. is going to pay for all my meds anyways!
  • by SwordFishData (1233916) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @08:52PM (#22315644) Homepage
    A little paint never hurt anyone! When I was a child, paint was considered a delicacy! It was like getting a piece of plasterboard with a prize!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Red Flayer (890720)

      A little paint never hurt anyone! When I was a child, paint was considered a delicacy! It was like getting a piece of plasterboard with a prize!
      I think the lead in that paint may have had more of an effect than you think.

      Besides, when I was a young'un, the plasterboard would have been the prize. We had to make our own drywall from gypsum lumps and the paper we made by chewing up wasps nests and spitting out the eggs, larvae, and wasps to make pulp.
      • Right. (Score:5, Funny)

        by Nick Driver (238034) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @09:55PM (#22316178)
        Besides, when I was a young'un, the plasterboard would have been the prize. We had to make our own drywall from gypsum lumps and the paper we made by chewing up wasps nests and spitting out the eggs, larvae, and wasps to make pulp.

        Right.

        I had to get up in the morning at ten o'clock at night, half an hour before I went to bed, eat a lump of dry poison, work twenty-nine hours a day down at the mill, and when we got home, our dad would kill us and dance about on our graves singing Hallelujah!

        You can't tell the young people of today that. They won't believe you.
  • Two observations (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @08:55PM (#22315692) Journal
    FTA:

    The FDA's San Juan office has 22 inspectors who devote about a quarter of their time to pharmaceutical plants. They typically visit the factories once every two years, more often if there are consumer complaints or the company has repeated infractions.
    [snip]
    Scharmann, a consulting editor for the watchdog publication Dickinson's FDA Review, said the FDA is concerned by anything that affects drug quality but considers the likelihood that the companies may file legal challenges to enforcement actions.
    Two interesting things there -- first is that plants are only inspected every two years unless they are flagged due to poor prior performance or consumer complaints. Why not have inspections with a random interval? Yah, I know -- cost. But considering how many pills these plants pump out, you'd think there'd be stricter oversight. Or is it that we just trust pharmaceutical companies to do the right thing (which means avoid the nightmare of tainted pills splashed across the evening news)?

    Other interesting point is that the FDA chooses not to fine companies/enforce regulations because of the cost of responding to legal challenges from the manufacturers. What excatly is the point of having oversight and inspections, then? Basically, the FDA must have crystal-clear evidence of plant-to-market malefeasance before they can do anything.

    I guess the pharma industry has gotten their money's worth with their campaign contributions. A hamstrung FDA on a shoestring budget means strong profits for big pharma.
    • Since pharma companies make a TON more money on a drug before it's patents expire (Example, Zyrtec cost me $2 a 10 mg pill. Now that generics are out, you can get 100 for $14.99, about 15 cents a pill)

      How about a moderate tax on patent protected drugs, to help fund the FDA, who can then improve their inspection process. That can help keep out counterfeit drugs, ensuring that potential customers will only get your genuine products.

      That is, in exchange for the government granted monopoly, you give the governm
    • Why not have inspections with a random interval? Yah, I know -- cost. But considering how many pills these plants pump out, you'd think there'd be stricter oversight. Or is it that we just trust pharmaceutical companies to do the right thing (which means avoid the nightmare of tainted pills splashed across the evening news)?

      There are different kinds of oversight. It doesn't make sense to do plant inspections all the time because what you really are inspecting are the systems not what is getting made. Ther

      • There are different kinds of oversight. It doesn't make sense to do plant inspections all the time because what you really are inspecting are the systems not what is getting made. There should, however, be more regular oversight of what is getting made in terms of reviewing documentation and quality test results.

        Good point.

        I think that plant inspections should follow more on the line of financial audits. Full process audits as done now, audit of process adherence regularly at more frequent intervals. Wh

    • Historically in the United States penalties for adulterated food and drug products are so small as to be laughable. For the last 100 years it has been far cheaper for drug companies to cast a blind eye toward safety and quality in favor of just eating the occasional penalty or lawsuit. Evem the larger penalties just result in a drug company reshuffling their ownership and credit credentials and just picking right up where they left off, poisoning and cheating their customers. Millions of people depend on pr
    • by instarx (615765)

      Two interesting things there -- first is that plants are only inspected every two years unless they are flagged due to poor prior performance or consumer complaints. Why not have inspections with a random interval? Yah, I know -- cost. But considering how many pills these plants pump out, you'd think there'd be stricter oversight. Or is it that we just trust pharmaceutical companies to do the right thing (which means avoid the nightmare of tainted pills splashed across the evening news)?

      Other interesting point is that the FDA chooses not to fine companies/enforce regulations because of the cost of responding to legal challenges from the manufacturers. What excatly is the point of having oversight and inspections, then? Basically, the FDA must have crystal-clear evidence of plant-to-market malefeasance before they can do anything.

      Usually I would agree that it is not possible to over-estimate US industry's willingness to get around regulations to save money (lead in toys is the most recent example), but as far as the pharm industry's manufacturing practices I have to disagree. I have several decades of experience in pharmaceutical safety so I know a bit about this.

      At least for the major pharm companies, Good Manufacturing Practices are of paramount importance. Yes FDA inspectors may come by on average once every two years to a faci

      • Thanks for the insight.

        I agree, by-and-large, that the major players play by the rules.

        I guess I got caught up a little bit in the sensationalism of the article :) -- and perhaps I didn't take enough of it with a grain of salt.
  • by Eukariote (881204) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @08:57PM (#22315712)
    Certainly, we should beware of iffy medication imported from abroad. But are the approved domestic drugs and treatments that safe? Have a look at these statistics: http://www.wnho.net/deathbymedicine.htm [wnho.net]. Close to a million deaths in the US, each year.
    • by mrbluze (1034940)

      Add to this death by non-compliance with medication, lack of medication/not being on medication, despite medication, non-prescription medication, over-the-counter medication, poisoning (all poisons are potentially medication!), suicide by medication, choking on medication and avoiding all of the above including food and water which potentially contains medication (anorexia), and you can pretty much include all deaths in the US and declare everything to be bad.

      I think I'll just get all depressed now and go

    • OK, I had a look. From that article:

      It's very difficult to obtain accurate statistics when studying unnecessary surgery. Dr. Leape in 1989 wrote that perhaps 30% of controversial surgeries are unnecessary. Controversial surgeries include Cesarean section, tonsillectomy, appendectomy, hysterectomy, gastrectomy for obesity, breast implants, and elective breast implants.

      This is a good example of why Mark Twain was right. Take for example appendectomy which they cite as a 'controversial' unnecessary surgery. There is no controversy that an appendectomy is necessary for real appendicitis. Without it, you will likely die from complications. However, especially in the era before CT scans (when the article they cite was written) the certainty of the diagnosis of acute appendicitis was always in question.

      Faced with 100 patients with fever

      • by Eukariote (881204)

        World Natural Health Organization you cite. Its no wonder if you go to the main page they also don't believe in global climate change, are anti-gay-marriage, anti-vaccination, anti-flouride, anti-abortion, and anti-aspartame, whack jobs.

        The page I linked to was an abstract/introduction of a book by authors not associated with that website. If you have an issue with the book, take on the book and the statistics and references therein. For vaccinations, fluoride, and aspartame there is good research that sh

        • by shalla (642644)
          For vaccines, a good well-sourced overview can be found here: http://astore.amazon.com/medical-bookstore-20/detail/1881217302 [amazon.com] [amazon.com].

          Ah, yes. That cutting-edge research from 2002 with one out of three reviews on the page commenting on how biased it is. There's a good source of information.

          Actually, there have been a number of studies recently looking at the association between vaccines and various illnesses/diseases/symptoms, particularly vaccines and autism. Every single one that I've seen publis
          • by Eukariote (881204)

            You need to have a context and know where the chart came from.

            Oh, I fully agree. Do you have that context and did you trace the sources of the charts? Nope, you did not. You read a review and deferred to its authority. Did you verify the research you quote that found no association between vaccines and risks? Nope, you believe them as they have been published by "reputable scientists".

            Consider that studies are easily bought and corrupted. If the reason for it all is what I say, the interests are so larg

            • by shalla (642644)
              Let's see. I said, "Ah, yes. That cutting-edge research from 2002 with one out of three reviews on the page commenting on how biased it is. There's a good source of information." And later in my comment, I stated that "You need to have a context and know where the chart came from."

              Your response? To quote only the last comment and then say: Oh, I fully agree. Do you have that context and did you trace the sources of the charts? Nope, you did not. You read a review and deferred to its authority. Did you ver
              • by Eukariote (881204)

                Well, you can take your own arguments as sufficient to leave the subject rest. Or you can reserve judgment and take in further data. As to your first point: the book I directed you to is anything but sketchy, it is very well-referenced. If you don't trust the book, you can still trace the source material it references. If you don't care to invest money in it, here is a freely downloadable article that covers part of the topic, and it is well-referenced too: http://www.jpands.org/vol11no2/ayoub.pdf [jpands.org]

                As to a

        • by sqlrob (173498)
          And for aspartame you only need to know that it metabolizes to formaldehyde to know enough.

          And vitamin B12 metabolizes to free cyanide. Therefore, I assume you will stop ingesting food with it?

          • by Eukariote (881204)

            And vitamin B12 metabolizes to free cyanide. Therefore, I assume you will stop ingesting food with it?

            Don't compare apples to oranges. One Diet Coke contain 135 milligrams of Aspartame. The recommended daily intake of vitamin B12 is 15 micrograms. Moreover, the toxicity mechanism is quite different: cyanide is an inhibitor of a specific enzyme, formaldehyde can cause many a-specific reactions, e.g. cross linking of protein chains.

            Also, consider that we have evolved to cope with a diet that includes vita

            • by sqlrob (173498)
              OK, so 135 mg would go to approximately 13 mg of formaldehyde, assuming all the methyl esters were metabolized

              So, that is lesse here...

              A whopping .026% more than the body produces under normal conditions in one day. So, I would say, yes, we're evolved to handle it.
              • by Eukariote (881204)

                A whopping .026% more than the body produces under normal conditions in one day.
                0.026% more than the formaldehyde the body produces under normal conditions in one day? Let's see, that would mean that according to you the body produces 13mg*(100/0.026) = 50 grams of formaldehyde, each day. Bullshit.
                • by sqlrob (173498)
                  Source [mflohc.mb.ca]
                  • by Eukariote (881204)

                    OK, point granted: the body can cope with the formaldehyde produced during normal metabolism. Does that mean that the formaldehyde from the potentially rather different aspartame metabolism can be coped with? Not necessarily. In fact, there is data that shows that it cannot.

                    A Spanish research group has managed http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9714421 [nih.gov] to trace where the formaldehyde produced during aspartame metabolism binds. They did so by radiolabeling the methanol group of aspartame. The formaldehyde

  • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @09:04PM (#22315788) Journal
    Another problem has been pills that have low (or nill) active ingredient concentration. Some of these are generics - others are just flat-out counterfeit.

    A particular problem is thyroid hormone - which even normally has significant variation of activity between brands. Fine tuning of the concentration during is necessary to prevent serious ill effects (including permanent brain damage or death). So substituting a pill with a different strength can be a serious hazard. (That is why endocrinologists prescribing it will normally specify the brand or manufacturer and "do not substitute".)

    Unfortunately, both generics with virtually no active ingredient and actual counterfeit pills with no active ingredient at all have been making their way into insurance company pharmacy plans from foreign manufacturers. (Recently a doctor studying this had the experience of cutting a pill in half and finding that it was fake. The real manufacturer's product had an internal layer that was missing in the counterfeit.)
    • "Another problem has been pills that have low (or nill) active ingredient concentration."

      Yep, they're called 'homeopathic remedies'. Seen a couple of ads on tv, one was at least a full minute long, pimping homeopathic crap. Very disturbing.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWE1tH93G9U [youtube.com]

      • Yep, they're called 'homeopathic remedies'. Seen a couple of ads on tv, one was at least a full minute long, pimping homeopathic crap. Very disturbing.

        Please tell me they didn't make a full minute long version of "Head On! Apply directly to the forehead!".

      • "Another problem has been pills that have low (or nill) active ingredient concentration."

        Yep, they're called 'homeopathic remedies'. Seen a couple of ads on tv, one was at least a full minute long, pimping homeopathic crap. Very disturbing.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWE1tH93G9U [youtube.com]

        Homeopathic remedies are a separate issue.

        What I'm talking about is products sold as a particular drug and strength which in fact are fakes with either a different (typically lower) strength or just no active ingredient at all.

  • this time? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by biased_estimator (1222498) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @09:19PM (#22315912)

    ...tainted pills that have arrived in the US from -- not China this time -- Puerto Rico.
    Have tainted pills come from China before? I know about all the other hooplah...
    • I'm not sure about tainted ones, but there's been a number of reports of counterfeit drugs coming from China. I read about one a while ago where the pills were the right shade of blue but were made from plaster! A woman died from it (well, not from the plaster but from her condition, which the fake pills didn't treat too effectively.)
    • by mqduck (232646)

      Have tainted pills come from China before?
      Not that I know of, but the article certainly didn't say that they have. The point was that it was against what might have been your expectations.
  • by BeeBeard (999187) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @09:49PM (#22316138)
    1. You take the blue pill and the story ends.

    2. You take the red pill and you stay in Wonderland, and see how deep the rabbit hole goes.

    3. You take the blue speckled pill and develop serious health issues.
  • Keep my pills away from your taint!
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maintenance [wikipedia.org]

    I begin to wonder reading all these stories.

    In the long run it is actually cheaper to do maintenance.
  • by HangingChad (677530) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @11:54PM (#22317024) Homepage

    FDA officials say the problems in Puerto Rico are proportionate with the large number of pharmaceutical plants here and generally no worse than those on the US mainland.

    Wow, I'm sure glad there isn't any more paint in our meds here on the US mainland than Puerto Rico.

    Remind me why the US pharmaceutical industry told us we were paying more for the same meds in this country? Something about safety...

  • I am surprised by the strong reaction to this minor contamination, when many people are quite happy to ingest unregulated herbal "supplements" with no oversight over purity or dosage. In fact, I predict that the strongest reaction to this will be from precisely those people.

    Supplementary, Complementary and Alternative Medicine should be subject to the same controls (including proofs of efficacy) as actual medicine.
  • As a member of the Kaiser Permanente HMO, I actually asked why Kaiser will only allow their prescriptions to be sold through their own pharmacies. The pharmarcist specifically said they want to ensure that the pills being prescribed were legitimate and try to avoid as much as possible the problem that plagued a number of drug store chains in the past, namely selling prescription pills that were actually fakes.

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