Made In The U.S.A.

These days there are quite a few people who do not want to purchase anything unless it is made in the United States of America.  This is their way of showing support for this fantastic country of ours.  Support your local business, help support jobs for our fellow countrymen, and do what we can to stimulate our own economy.

While this process may sound all well and good, it would be a dauntingly difficult mode of life to undertake.  Just take a look around as you drive down the road; every other car you see is from a different country; and what about the cars that are made in the U.S.A., how would a person verify that all of the parts and instrumentation and raw material are actually made in the U.S.A.?

Does anyone every talk on a mobile phone or work on a computer?  My guess is that the entire device, or at least some of its components, were manufactured in a foreign country.  I would even assume that the foreign country that manufactured the electronic device received the raw materials from other foreign countries. 

Then there is clothing.  When a label states that a product of clothing was made in the U.S.A., does that mean that the raw materials were also fabricated in the U.S.A.?  I don’t know the answer to this.   I do know that on quick inspection of my closet, some of my clothes have the “made in U.S.A.” tag on them; however, most of them have the “made somewhere else” tag.

Now, let’s talk about prescription medications.   What is a pharmacist to do when a patient walks into the store and states that they don’t want any medication that wasn’t made in the U.S.A.?  My first inclination is to take some time out for a little education with the patient.  It is important to understand the process of how medications are allowed or not allowed to come into our country.  A few months back I wrote an article that discusses the “Chain of Custody” process which is put in place to protect the consumer.  If you haven’t read it, please follow this link.

Many pharmaceutical companies that are located in the U.S.A. actually contract out the manufacturing process of their medications to foreign pharmaceutical manufacturing companies.  When a patient asks me what country a medication came from, I can pick up the bottle and it will usually state “manufactured for XYZ Company” and then give the U.S.A. address of XYZ Company.  The next line will state the name of the manufacturing plant and the country of origin of the medication.  It is common place for medications to be manufactured in Europe, Asia or the Middle-East for a U.S.A. based pharmaceutical company. 

As described in my “Chain of Custody” article, there are strict practice guidelines regarding manufacturing, storage and shipping that need to be followed and documented the entire process.  If a medication is being manufactured for use in another country, the U.S.A. “Chain of Custody” guidelines do not apply.  Each country has their own regulations regarding the importation of pharmaceuticals.

I work within a system whereby I am signed up with a purchasing group in order to maintain competitive pricing.  When I log on to my wholesaler to order a generic medication, I do not know the country of origin of the medication.  I may have anywhere from one to four choices of a specific generic medication to order.   I don’t know the point of origin of any specific medication until I order it in and read the packaging on the container.  I am limited on which manufacturers I can order because my purchasing group has contracted with specific manufacturers.  I will pay an increasingly expensive price if I purchase outside of my agreed upon contract list.

If a patient wants to make certain that the medication that they are taking is made in the U.S.A. then they need to be proactive and do the leg work before getting to the pharmacy.  They need to do some research on the internet, find out which companies make their generic medication, and then call these companies to find out the point of origin of the specific medication.  The patient may then check with their local pharmacy to see if they might already stock, or be willing to order the specific manufacturer they are looking for.

This is a predicament and I do not have an exact answer.  I would appreciate any comments on this situation.

Generic Medications
Chain of Custody

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