With the recent recall of valsartan due to carcinogenic Chinese contaminants the issue of where one’s generic medication is manufactured has become more important.
I take two generics: ramipril for my hypertension and rosuvastatin for my cholesterol/atherosclerosis and I had no idea where they came from when I discussed the rise of generics manufactured in China recently.
Where Is My Ramipril Made?
I called my St. Lukes pharmacist, Robert, and asked him if he could give me information on the origin of these pills.
Robert told me that my 10 mg ramipril capsule was distributed by a company called West-Ward located in New Jersey. West-Ward was an independent Columbus, Ohio company but was purchased in 2016 by a very large pharmaceutical company , Hikma, based in Aaman, Jordan. Now the Hikma web site indicates West-Ward is no more and is simply called Hikma in the US.
According to a 2017 Columbus article”
Hikma Pharmaceuticals Plc projects it will end 2017 with about $2 billion revenue, about $600 million of which is from generic drugs made by its U.S. subsidiary West-Ward. In the spring, the company had projected $800 million in generics sales.
Customer service at Hikma informs me that my ramipril was made in their Columbus, Ohio plant.
Where Is My Rosuvastatin Made?
My rosuvastatin (generic of Crestor) was made by Glenmark Pharmaceuticals which, per wikipedia
is a pharmaceutical company headquartered in Mumbai, India that was founded in 1977 by Gracias Saldanha as a generic drug and active pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturer; he named the company after his two sons.
Glenmark received FDA approval to market their generic rosuvastatin in the US in July, 2016. and at that time had 115 products authorized for distribution in the US market and 61 drugs pending approval with the US FDA.
My rosuvastatin according to Robert was made in India although the Glenmark product catalog does not reveal this information.
Generic versus Brand Name
I’ve talked about Crestor/rosuvastatin a few times on this blog and the development of a generic version has been very helpful for many of my patients. Looking online today I see that generic rosuvastatin goes for about 10$ per month compared to 260$ for Crestor.
Is it worth paying an extra 250$ per month to get brand name Crestor if, let’s say it was manufactured in the US? For most people it isn’t. For one thing, there is no guarantee of where your brand name drug is manufactured.
Crestor used to be made in a factory in Bristol, UK but this was shut down in 2017 and now I can’t tell where Astra-Zeneca makes the stuff. Frankly, I’m surprised that they are selling any of the drug which used to account for 5 billion dollars of their annual sales.
So my cholesterol drug is made in India by an Indian company and my blood pressure drug is made in Columbus, Ohio by a Jordanian company.
I never realized how globalized the pharmaceutical industry has become. Hopefully, the FDA is doing a good job of monitoring the safety and quality of products we rely on for our wellbeing which are manufactured all over the globe.
Addendum: I have an updated post which includes more generic ARB recalls here