Standards more important than price

September 18, 2008

Medsafe is considering banning a commonly used antibiotic.

The United States Food and Drug Administration yesterday banned imports of two formulations of amoxicillin syrup and several other drugs made at two plants in India, owned by the company Ranbaxy, because of unresolved concerns from an audit in March. It has not banned sales of existing stocks in the US.

The New Zealand Ministry of Health’s chief adviser on public health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, said this afternoon that it had begun the process to ban imports of the drugs. But it would not make a decision on whether to proceed with a ban until considering further information, such as the results of any more recent audits done by other countries’ medicines regulators.

There was no evidence that the drugs had caused any harm or were ineffective.

Would you wait for evidence before you opted not to use it? Given what’s been happening with the poisoned milk in China I wouldn’t.

And there is a bigger issue here – how safe is other food or medicine from these places?

There are huge opportunities in these rapidly developing and populous countries which include the ability to manufacture at a much lower cost than is possible here.

But that’s false economy if quality and safety can’t be guaranteed; and any health risk is too high a price to pay for cheaper food or medicine.

Update: The New Zealand Food Safety Authority  says small amounts of Chinese milk products have been imported recently but the risk of poisoning is miniscule.


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