Nine in 10 prescriptions are today filled using a generic drug saving Americans tens of billions annually. A significant amount of generic drugs, along with active ingredients in all drugs, are manufactured overseas. However, how safely or to what quality standards are these ingredients and generics produced? Bottle of Lies, published in May, tells the story of appalling practices foreign generic manufacturers use to produce these drugs at the most minimal cost. The work moreover provides a detailed account of Ranbaxy, the former India-based generic manufacturer that after eight years of investigation was fined a then record amount,$500 million, for significant fraud. The work questions or brings to serious doubt the FDA's ability to adequately inspect overseas generic manufacturers ensuring these drugs are safe for consumption in the US or around the world. Listeners may recall I interviewed coauthor Paul Weinberg in September 2017 concerning his related work, Blood On Their Hands, How Greedy Companies, Inept Bureaucracy and Bad Science Killed Thousands of Hemophiliacs and Rosemary Gibson this past December concerning her related, China Rx, Exposing the Risk of America’s Dependence on China for Medicine.
During this 37 minute interview. Ms. Eban provides an overview of Ranbaxy's manufacturing practices revealed by former employee and whistleblower, Dinesh Thakur. She explains the mindset, termed "Jugaad," used in India to produce generics. She discusses the adequacy of the 2013 US settlement with Ranbaxy , the role the Japanese firm, Daiichi Sankyo, a major Ranbaxy stakeholder, the FDA's ability to adequately inspect Ranbaxy and other generic manufacturers around the world, e.g., Cipla and Mylan, recent and future related Congressional action, how poor or inadequate manufacturing practices complicate remedying the drug shortage problem and what precautions consumers or patients can take before consuming generic drugs.
Katherine Eban, an investigative journalist, is a Fortune magazine contributor and Andrew Carnegie fellow. Her articles on pharmaceutical counterfeiting, gun trafficking, and coercive interrogations by the CIA, have won international attention and numerous awards. She has also written for Vanity Fair, The New York Times, Self, The Nation, the New York Observer and other publications. Her work has been featured on 60 Minutes, Nightline, NPR, and other national news programs. She lectures frequently on the topic of pharmaceutical integrity. Her first book, Dangerous Doses: a True Story of Cops, Counterfeiters and the Contamination of America’s Drug Supply, was named one of the Best Books of 2005 by Kirkus Reviews and was a Barnes&Noble Discover Great New Writers pick. Her account of reporting on 9/11 was anthologized in At Ground Zero: 25 Stories From Young Reporters Who Were There. Her work has also been awarded grants from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Fund for Investigative Journalism, the Alicia Patterson Foundation and the McGraw Center for Business Journalism at CUNY’s Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism. Educated at Brown University and Oxford, where she was a Rhodes Scholar.
Information on Bottle of Lies is at: https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062338785/bottle-of-lies/.
Ms. Eban's FAQ regarding how to learn about generics or best to consume is at: https://www.katherineeban.com/faqs.