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“Generic Blood Pressure Drugs Remain A Big Problem”

“The market has been plagued by shortages, often forcing people to switch their medications every couple of months.” 

Top 10 heart health findings of 2019

David Becker, Dec 31, 2019

Philadelphia Inquirer – There have been a number of major developments in the field of cardiology in 2019. Here is my list of the top 10 new findings that might affect your life:

1. Generic blood pressure drugs remain a big problem. When the generic drug for hypertension called valsartan was recalled more than a year ago because of cancer-causing impurities found in medication produced in China and India, it was supposed to be a temporary shortage.

Since then, other related medications called losartan and irbesartan have also been recalled.

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The market has been plagued by shortages, often forcing people to switch their medications every couple of months.

Although this is not unsafe to do, I worry that some patients will become frustrated and stop their medication entirely, which is not safe to do.

“American consumers are often surprised to learn about the drugs prescribed to them. For instance, many people are taken aback to learn that more than 90 percent of the medicines prescribed by doctors in the U.S. are generics. Even more surprising is the fact that more than a third of these drugs were likely manufactured in India.” – pharmamanufacturing.com

2, The Apple Watch can detect dangerous irregular heartbeats. Wearable technology has become big business. Perhaps no player is bigger than Apple, as the watch has added an algorithm that can sense an arrhythmia called atrial fibrillation.

In a study in the New England Journal of Medicine funded by Apple and published in November, it has been shown to accurately and sensitively detect atrial fibrillation in a screened population of more than 400,000 people.

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Of note, in a prior, much smaller study, a company called Kardia did the same thing with an app for the Apple Watch.

It no longer offers the app, as Apple has incorporated the technology. Sometimes being bigger has its advantages.

3. Eating eggs might not be so bad for you, but they still affect cholesterol. In a study published in March in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found an association between dietary cholesterol, eating eggs, and heart disease, but not as strong as expected. The conclusion: An occasional egg will not hurt you.

4. Aspirin does not always help the heart and may hurt by causing increased bleeding. Another large trial in 2019 has again shown that taking an aspirin every day to prevent a heart problem in a person with no cardiac problems may cause more harm than good … Read more. 

David Becker is a frequent Inquirer contributor and a board-certified cardiologist with Chestnut Hill Temple Cardiology in Flourtown, Pa. He has been in practice for 25 years.

“In 2010, 64% of foreign manufacturing plants, predominantly in India and China, had never been inspected by the FDA. By 2015, 33% remained uninspected.”

Are generic drugs safe? Not necessarily

Dec 5, 2019

Philly Voice – Generic prescription drugs have saved the U.S. about $1.7 trillion over the past decade. The Food and Drug Administration approved a record 781 new generics in 2018 alone, including generic versions of Cialis, Levitra and Lyrica. They join generic versions of blockbusters from yesteryear, like Lipitor, Nexium, Prozac and Xanax.

Seniors are the biggest purchasers of generics, because they take the most medications and are on fixed incomes, but virtually everyone has taken a generic antibiotic or pain pill at one time.

This leads to a vital question: Are generics safe? If drug manufacturers followed the FDA’s strict regulations, the answer would be a resounding yes.

Unfortunately for those who turn to generics to save money, the FDA relies heavily on the honor system with foreign manufacturers, and U.S. consumers get burned. Eighty percent of the active ingredients and 40% of the finished generic drugs used in the U.S. are manufactured overseas.

“In taking the export earnings to a new high, exports [of generic drugs] to the United States of America played an important role and it is a great achievement and milestone for Bangladesh,” Shawkat Haider, General Manager, Business Development of Beximco Pharmaceuticals

As a pharmacist, I know that the safety of prescription medications is vital. My research, recently published in the “Annals of Pharmacotherapy,” raises alarming concerns about our vulnerabilities.

Generic drug manufacturers either make bulk powders with the active ingredient in them or buy those active ingredients from other companies and turn them into pills, ointments or injectable products.

In 2010, 64% of foreign manufacturing plants, predominantly in India and China, had never been inspected by the FDA. By 2015, 33% remained uninspected.

In addition, companies in other countries are informed before an inspection, giving them time to clean up a mess. Domestic inspections are unannounced … Read more. 

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