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One pharmacy uncovers dangerous chemicals in some common drugs

Written by Diane Archer

A small pharmacy based in New Haven is testing the prescription drugs it dispenses for safety. And, it is uncovering dangerous chemicals in some common drugs. Talk to your doctor about the safety of the drugs you’re taking.

We know that some drugs the FDA has approved have turned out not to be safe. But, how many others are unsafe that have not been reported? Carolyn Johnson reports for  The Washington Post that Valisure, a small online pharmacy, is checking every drug it sells before dispensing it.

Since it began testing the drugs it dispenses, Valisure has found a sea of drug safety issues and other prescription drug problems. It rejects more than one in ten drugs it tests because it finds either that they contain contaminants or otherwise do not perform as expected. For its part, the FDA says that drug safety is not an issue with its approved drugs.

Valisure recently found that Zantac, a best-selling drug, is less safe than many people thought. It contains a cancer-causing chemical. Since Valisure’s discovery, 40 countries have stopped allowing it to be sold.

The FDA has asked for the recall of Zantac and other products with ranitidine and nizatidine. Pepcid, Tagamet, Nexium, Prevacid and Prilosec don’t contain these dangerous chemicals.

Valisure also found that rapid release Tylenol gelcaps dissolve far less quickly than the less costly Tylenol uncoated tablets. In this case, the problem was the misleading marketing of the product, not its risks. The manufacturer subsequently clarified that its marketing was suggesting only that the rapid-release gelcaps dissolved more quickly than other gelcaps, another reason not to trust the marketing hype on products.

Quality and safety may be an issue because many drugs are manufactured abroad, with less stringent regulatory oversight than in the US. In 2016, the Government Accountability Office reported that nearly 1,000 of 3,000 foreign manufacturing sites had not been inspected by the FDA. Some believe that inspections alone are not enough to ensure safety.

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