26 June 2009

Wal-Mart Drugs: A Health Risk?

Chances are you or someone close to you gets all or some of their prescriptions filled at Wal-Mart because they advertise reduced pricing. Last Tuesday, WakeupWalMart.com issued a press release reporting that Wal-Mart is getting some of its drugs from a disreputable supplier.

The supplier in question is Ranbaxy, an Indian company that the Department of Justice claims is responsible for introducing potentially "subpotent", "superpotent" or "adulterated drugs into the market. What this means in simple, every-day language is that medications used by millions of Wal-Mart shoppers could have contained active ingredients from unapproved sources, in unapproved blends, and in amounts weaker than FDA-approved doses.

The report also states that "Despite years of federal warnings concerning "systematic fraudulent conduct" Wal-Mart continues to source cheap drugs from Raxbury.

In recent years Raxbury has faced suits for patent infringements and United States federal action including the the blocking of more than 30 of its generic drugs from entering the country. The FDA stated that it was taking this proactive action because of the extent and seriousness of the violations uncovered at two of the company's sites. The violations include inadequate sterile processing and inaccurate record keeping.

Nearly a year ago the Justice Department asked a U.S. District Court judge in Maryland to force Ranbaxy to turn over audits completed by a contractor, which the company later agreed to provide. The government's request was related to an ongoing investigation of conspiracy, false statements and health care fraud.

Wakeupwalmart.com asks, "If Wal-Mart is interested in providing safe products from responsible suppliers, why is it handing out awards to companies under investigation by the FDA and DOJ?"

Wal-Mart's worldwide branding campaign as a global health care and ethical sourcing leader raises the question of whether it cares more about its bottom line than in the health and lives of its pharmacy customers.

Once again, older people and working families are exploited and put at risk because of the cynicism, willful greed and arrogant power of mega-companies such as Wal-Mart.

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