I don’t usually write personal rants, but this week I have only one thing on my mind.
Because, you see, I have the worst toothache I’ve ever had. In fact, as pain goes, I’d say it’s right up there with the two C-sections I’ve had. Worse than labor? MEH (My Engineer Husband) asked. “Yes. Worse than labor. On-Pitocin-for 8-hours-then-C-section worse than labor.”
Perhaps and hopefully obviously, I went to the dentist (last Tuesday). To give you an idea of the kind of pain we’re talking about, I had taken 2 (okay, 3) Advil, but don’t tell my almost-doctor son, and I could still feel the tooth pain. Searing pain at night like someone was dangling on a raw nerve in my cheek that then ran up into my eye making my eye feel like it might fall out of my head. It was bad.
Earlier that Tuesday on a routine follow up to my dermatologist (I had melanoma 6 years ago), I had a steroid injection into a small scar. Two shots into my back with no local anesthesia. It hurt like HELL. I clamped my hands together and wanted to scream. But it didn’t hurt as much as the toothache. Maybe if I’d had to get injection after injection after injection of the steroid, then maybe.
The dentist determined that this same tooth (which has already had a root canal) has been giving me trouble for a while. It may need to be “re-treated” (that’s another root canal) or extracted. GULP. Not only would this be a painful procedure that would require recovery time, but it also would be quite costly. I begged the dentist (actually asked nicely, he’s a really nice guy) to try another round of antibiotics—last time was 3 years ago.
I’ve now been on the antibiotics for 5 days. Z-pak. And the pain is a lot better—not gone but better. On my original visit, my dentist said if necessary (I still had some pain) I could have a second round of antibiotics to make sure the infection is wiped out. After what I just read in the NY Times, I may be requesting one regardless.
Here’s the point of this post
Turns out that India—which is “the second-largest exporter of over-the-counter and prescription drugs to the United States” is under “increased scrutiny” for safety lapses and falsified drug test results and SELLING FAKE MEDICINES. As I read this article, which was delivered to my inbox, not sought out… no, I’m not one of those people who researches everything about a medication I’m taking…I’m thinking to myself, think I, “surely not antibiotics…”
But I quote: “One widely used antibiotic was found to contain no active ingredient…the test (that determined this) was kept secret for nearly a year while some 100,000 useless pills continued to be dispensed.”
100,000 PILLS. To people with toothaches. Searing pain. That’s what I was thinking as I was reading this morning.
I don’t mean to make a joke out of this. Believe me, it’s not a joke because this is much more serious than I’m making it out to be. Counterfeit medicines are suspected of playing a role in the deaths of HUNDREDS of infants in recent years in a hospital in Kashmir.
Some fake tablets were used to prevent post-surgical infections in pregnant women. Other medications that were equally fake were chemotherapy drugs given to people with cancer. That means cancer patients were given INACTIVE drugs.
Fakes and Flies
On the one hand, it makes my toothache feel inconsequential, but on the other hand, I’m madder than hell. Inspections are lax. Warnings are issued but not heeded. As soon as I read the article, I ran to the kitchen to check the manufacturing country of my antibiotic (I never knew there was such a thing), and I was relieved to see that it was manufactured in Croatia (a country not mentioned in the article). I never had any idea I would need to check something like this—but from now on I will not take any medication that is manufactured in India or China (also a serious offender of counterfeiting and poor inspection).
Now, I’ve not researched Croatia’s track record, and I’m not going to, but if my pain is not completely gone at the end of this course of antibiotics, I will ask for a second round prior to a costly and invasive treatment or extraction…just for my own peace of mind. To be fair, I should say that 190 million doses of antibiotics are administered each day, so the possibility I’m on a fake is an extreme longshot. I know that, but, still, if… the World Health Organization estimates that one in five drugs made in India are fakes, and flies were found, people, FLIES “too numerous to count” in critical plant areas…then, I’m connecting the dots here, that’s all.
I’m assuming (but not certain) that inspections are better in this country… because supposedly the FDA “applies the same standards for all drug manufacturing facilities” wherever they are in the world (Medicine.net). However…according to the Times article: “Enforcement of regulations over all is very week, analysts say, and India’s government does a poor job policing many of its industries.” So maybe some places aren’t held to quite the same standards as others?
In any event, for the time being—and at least with this toothache—make mine MADE IN THE USA, name-brand, please.