Generic Drugs: An Exposé

Bottles of Lies by Katherine Eban is an eye opener on critical failures in pharmaceutical production and regulation of generic drugs.

Book Recommendation – Bottles of Lies by Katherine Eban

I recently finished reading Bottle of Lies (The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom) by Katherine Eban, which has been called one of the 100 most notable books of 2019 by the New York Times.  It is an eye opener on critical failures in pharmaceutical production and regulation of generic drugs.  Even after officials at the FDA become aware of problems at one of the biggest generic drug producers, it takes years before anything is done.  It is riveting and informative and should be at the top of the reading list for anyone who prescribes medications or relies on prescribed generic drugs.  

Bottle of Lies supports the idea that utilization of generic drugs should be done with greater caution as many are not in fact equivalent.  It provides revealing insights into how our regulatory system fails to address the challenges of monitoring a now global supply chain and international companies.  Thus, while we all appreciate the lower prices of generic drugs, we must be aware of their shortcomings and how our regulatory apparatus currently fails to insure their safety and consistency.  We need to revise our system to act in the interests of the people who depend upon the availability of safe and affordable medications.  

-Keshav Narain, MD

What Can we Do?

  1. Increase our own suspicion every time we write a prescription or receive a prescription.
  2. Spread the word – increase awareness and push for change – let our lawmakers know we demand better.
  3. Test and verify when in doubt: private labs are already springing up. It is unfortunate that it has come to this, but I am glad that we have the option to test.
    1. Private labs helped find lead in Flint, Michigan.
    2. Valisure Labs ( is an example of a private lab.

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