Exposed: Tainted Factories Led To Dozens Of CVS Drug Recalls

( — Recalls are part of modern life. While they can be scary, ultimately, they keep people safer. Cars are recalled for production or design flaws, foods are recalled for contamination or mislabeling, and medications are recalled for safety reasons as well.

In analysis recently released by Bloomberg, however, they found that CVS has had almost twice the number of recalls compared to other drugstore chains. Over the past decade, CVS has had 133 recalls of generic-brand over-the-counter drugs. During the same time frame, Walmart has only had 51 such recalls, while Walgreens has had 70.

One woman, 78-year-old Joan Collins of Nassau County, New York is embroiled in a lawsuit against CVS over contaminated eye drops that may have permanently damaged her eyesight. The eye drops were supposed to have been removed from store shelves when an inspection of the facility in India found multiple product safety violations. In 2019, during a visit to a Florida facility belonging to a contract manufacturer used by CVS, FDA inspectors found water used in the drug-making process contained a dangerous bacterium. The contractor, Unipharma, is now defunct. Several of its over-the-counter generic drugs for children including pain and fever medicines, cough syrups, and allergy medications, were recalled.

Amy Thibault, a spokeswoman for CVS, said that they work to “maximize quality and safety” as well as comply with regulations and work as they are intended to. Professor of medicine at Stanford University, Kevin Schulman, on the other hand, suggests that the problem is driven by attempts to cut costs and maximize profit. He added that companies will often just choose the lowest-cost manufacturing contracts rather than choosing suppliers based on quality. CVS has been found to have outsourced production of certain generic drugs to 15 manufacturers that have been cited for violations.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspects drug-production factories once every few years but does not regularly test the drugs Americans take. One major issue with the system is the loophole for store-brand drugs. While drugmakers are responsible for the safety of their medications, drugstore brands fall under rules for private-label medications. This passes the responsibility for safety concerns to the contracted manufacturers rather than the distributors. While the cost of over-the-counter medications is important, safety is vital and must take precedence. Distributors who use contractors will have to be held accountable for the products they sell.

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