Chinese Checkers

  • by: |
  • 06/01/2007
The FDA has determined that not only did tainted heparin from China infiltrate the US drug supply -- it did the same to 11 other nations as well. The facts are indisputable -- 12 different Chinese companies supplied contaminated heparin not only to the United States but to Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand -- and China.

The response from China -- denial there even were any impurities and then to imply that the problem stems from contaminated vials used in the United States. And, get this, the Chinese authorities won't allow FDA officials to inspect any Chinese facilities unless they can, in turn, inspect the American plants where the product was prepared for distribution.

How do you say "chutzpah" in Mandarin?

It's hard to say what these Chinese Checkers might discover -- but it's likely they'd find that the GMPs in place in the United States are the global gold standard. Whether the tainted ingredients were used in error or to save money doesn't matter. What matters now is that the problem must be identified -- and that means that our trading partners in the Middle Kingdom must allow FDA inspectors in now -- and allow them to inspect plants that produce API or other ingredients bound for US shores.

It's not a question of national sovereignty -- it's a matter of responsibility and public health.

What does all this say about the realities of drug importation? It points out, once again, that it’s nothing other than a dangerous political charade. And when you look at the list of nations impacted by this crisis, they're many of the same countries on the "approved" list for many ill-conceived drug importation bills.

So much for eastern promises.

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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