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FDA Recalls Are Reminder China Controls Much of World's Drug Supply

Though the FDA has ways of ensuring safety for products manufactured around the world, no inspection would have found a potentially cancer-causing chemical in a common blood pressure drug

The Food and Drug Administration has recalled certain drugs in recent days, one out of precaution and one due to possible contamination, and the warning has served as a reminder of a drug market that's increasingly outsourced to other countries, NBC News reported

Recent recalls include blood pressure drug Valsartan and thyroid medications Levothyroxine and Liothyronine. The FDA said some Valsartan batches around the world have been contaminated with a potentially cancer-causing chemical. No product sold in the U.S. has been found to be contaminated, but the generic versions could have the potential to generate the chemical. Still, the danger only lies in lifetime exposure and patients can continue taking the drug until they confirm its unaffected or they switch to an alternative.

But the case does illustrate the challenges the FDA must overcome in regulating the drug market and how vulnerable the U.S. is when it depends on other countries, especially China, to make essential drugs. The FDA has ways of ensuring product safety, such as regularly sending inspectors to scrutinize Chinese facilities. The thyroid medications were recalled out of precaution over what the FDA said were deficiencies in the manufacturer's practices.

However, no inspection would have found the potentially cancer-causing chemical, a byproduct of processing foods such as bacon as well as a water contaminant.

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