600,000 Asthma Inhalers Recalled due to Defects

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600,000 Asthma Inhalers Recalled due to Defects

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One of the most important items for many asthma sufferers is their inhaler that delivers medicine during an attack.  This medicine opens up the airway and provides many patients with the chance to ride out an attack instead of having to call 911 for help.  However, a recent manufacturing problem led to the recall of 600,000 devices that have been shipped to hospitals and pharmacies around the world.  The reason for the recall is that the inhalers did not deliver the correct amount of medicine when used. 

Patients Left Guessing

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What is strange is that the recall wasn’t extended to patients who already had inhalers that could possibly be defective.  Rather, it was limited to medical facilities.  The logic is that the batches weren’t distributed to patients because they were just shipped.  However, there’s no way to know whether or not patients actually received these devices in the interim.  It’s up to healthcare providers and the patients themselves to follow up and determine whether or not their devices are affected.

This is scary, considering that patients use these inhalers when they start to encounter difficulty breathing.  Without the correct dose of medicine, a random attack that would otherwise be easily controlled can turn into a life-threatening situation.  Consequently, patients often don’t have the luxury of time with respect to being able to try out their inhalers to see whether or not they work, yet 600,000 of them are known to be defective. 

What we don’t know is how many defective devices make it into the hands of patients on a regular basis.  In this case, it was pretty easy to identify problems because so many inhalers were affected.  However, it’s impossible to catch all of the defects that manage to pass through quality control systems undetected. 

Systemic Problem?

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This comes on the heels of another massive recall of epinephrine injector pens because they failed to activate and deliver life-saving medication during an emergency.  Epinephrine pens are used by those who suffer from allergies that can lead to anaphylactic shock.  Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate intervention in order to prevent a patient from suffocating or suffering cardiac arrest. 

Widespread Problems With Quality Control

There have already been 9 major recalls initiated by the FDA this year due to quality control issues, a lack of approval, issues with sterility or products containing ingredients they are not supposed to have.  The problem with defective medication or medial supplies has fueled a multi-billion dollar legal industry that has flourished over the past few years as more and more patients become affected by these products. 

This illustrates how the FDA is not able to monitor and regulate the production and distribution of medication or supplies effectively.  In far to many cases, the agency isn’t even aware of problems until they erupt into a major crisis.  Consequently, people could be exposed to harm and not even know about it until it’s too late. 

What Can be Done?

We don’t have a lot of choice in the matter since pharmacies usually give us few options when it comes to selecting specific brands of medication.  This is particularly true when there are generic alternatives to name brands available.  If the prescription allows for a generic alternative, pharmacies will fill it with whatever is on hand, but few patients actually ask who the manufacturer is and whether or not they have a history of quality control problems.  Keep in mind that millions of people are thought to be impacted by defective medication or supplies every year, but most of these incidents go unnoticed and unreported. 

Consequently, it’s up to us to do research, ask questions and take a more proactive approach to monitoring where we get our medication from.  This is especially true when trying to build up supplies of medication to carry us through a survival situation.  The last thing that any of us need is to take medication that is defective when the SHTF and access to emergency medical services is limited.