(NaturalNews) The number of drug recalls in the United States has surged in recent years, raising concerns about the overall safety of pharmaceutical products.
"Overall, I am concerned about the quality of drugs," said Prabir Basu of the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Technology and Education.
The number of recalls ballooned from 426 in 2008 to 1,742 in 2009, with more than 1,000 of the recalls from a single company. That company, Advantage Dose, has since gone out of business. Even removing Advantage's recalls from the picture, however, the number of recalls still increased 50 percent from 2008.
"We've seen a trend where the last four years are among the top five for the most number of drug recalls since we began tallying recalls in 1988," said analyst Bowman Cox. "That's a meaningful development."
Already 296 drugs have been recalled in 2010, continuing that trend.
"If we continue at this same rate, we could get 600 or more recalls by the end of the year," Cox said. "That's still a very high rate of recalls."
The errors responsible for recalls have included low-quality raw materials, contamination, and faulty labels and packaging. Analysts attribute these errors largely to manufacturers' efforts to be the first to bring generic versions of drugs to market, and the ensuing temptation to cut corners and skimp on testing the product before releasing it.
"So they get the application. They make and market the drug, but they could still have problems down the road if they haven't really understood the optimum way to make that drug," said Cox.
Because competition can be so fierce in the drug business, especially for companies selling generic drugs, manufacturers also seek to cut costs by outsourcing production to potentially unreliable third parties.
"It is very expensive to make drugs," Basu said. "It also costs a lot of money to maintain adequate quality controls."