For decades, most of the medicines Americans took were made in the U.S. That was true for brand-name drugs as well as generics. Over the last decade or two, though, drug companies realized that they could save a lot of money if they purchased pharmaceutical ingredients from abroad. Both China and India, as well as many other countries, realized that they could make huge profits by supplying the American market. But if a generic antibiotic like doxycycline doesn’t work, it could become a life-threatening situation.
Our Love-Hate Relationship with Generic Drugs:
Starting in 1976, we were among the FDA’s biggest boosters when it came to generic drugs. We encouraged patients to badger their health professionals for generics whenever possible. That was largely because we thought brand name medicines were too expensive.
We still believe that drugs cost far too much, but over the last two decades we have become distrustful of the FDA. We think the agency has made serious mistakes about how it approves generic drugs. We are also disturbed about the way the FDA oversees manufacturing and shipping of medications made abroad.
A Generic Antibiotic: Doxycycline (Vibramycin):
We think the generic drug problem is especially worrisome when it comes to a medicine like doxycycline, a generic antibiotic that is essential for many serious illnesses. This tetracycline antibiotic is prescribed for Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, anthrax, malaria, urinary tract infections, STDs and bacterial infections in the lungs. If a generic antibiotic like doxy doesn’t work, it could be disastrous.
A Reader Complains About the Generic Antibiotic Doxycycline:
Q. I have no confidence that any generic drug actually contains its active ingredient in the right amount and is not contaminated.
I recently had bronchitis and took the generic antibiotic doxycycline. It had no effect.
Then I read the People’s Pharmacy article about “authorized generics” and got the authorized generic of doxycycline. That worked! Amazing. Recently, my pharmacy told me that the authorized generic of doxycycline has been discontinued.
The new book, Bottle of Lies, by Katherine Eban is a well-researched story of how FDA inspectors in India and China found repeated pharma company deception, failure and contamination. And the FDA repeatedly failed to take action.
Generic drugs were a great idea, an appropriate public service. That idea has been corrupted by greed and helped along by FDA inaction. Americans no longer benefit; it seems that only the brand name pharma companies benefit from the current situation.
A. Authorized generic drugs are made with the same “recipe” as their brand name counterparts. Sometimes they are even made on the same factory line. We encourage people to request an authorized generic if they have concerns about their medication. Here is a link to our list of authorized generic drugs:
We are glad you found Katherine Eban’s book helpful. We recommend it highly for anyone who wants to understand the problems with generic drugs. You can listen to our free podcast with Katherine Eban at this link:
When investigative journalist Katherine Eban took a close look at medicine manufacturing, she uncovered many frightening problems with generic drugs.
You can listen to the free streaming audio by clicking on the arrow inside the green circle under Katherine’s photograph. Or, if you prefer, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the free mp3 link.
Can You Get Your Generic Drugs Tested?
One pharmacy that tests every lot of medicine it dispenses is www.Valisure.com. That way you can be assured there are no contaminants and that the product contains the right amount of medicine.
We wish we could trust all generic drugs, especially generic antibiotic medications like doxycycline. If you would like to read about our transition from FDA cheerleaders to FDA skeptics, check out the chapter “Generic Drug Screwups” in our book, Top Screwups.
Share your own story about generic drugs in the comment section below. We want to hear all sorts of experiences, whether positive or negative.