Aug 8, 2023 - Health

Pentagon starts independent generic drug safety tests

Illustration of prescription pill bottle with a siren as the cap.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

The Pentagon is turning to the independent testing lab Valisure to assess the quality and safety of generic drugs given to service members and veterans amid supply chain issues and shortages of certain treatments.

The big picture: The contract stems from a directive in the fiscal 2023 defense authorization act to size up risks to the military's drug supply chain.

  • Valisure has done testing for Kaiser Permanente to go beyond Food Drug and Administration-mandated surveillance and to head off possible shortages, Bloomberg News reported.
  • Its Defense Department work will primarily test drug quality by assessing and scoring the chemical properties of samples from DoD suppliers. It may also take up logistical risks.

"By creating much-needed transparency in drug quality, this program will enable conscientious manufacturers to be able to better compete and allow major purchasers of drugs like the DoD and Department of Veterans Affairs to reward good manufacturers and exclude substandard medicines from being consumed," the company said.

Context: Generic drugs make up 90% of prescriptions dispensed in the United States and are a big share of the treatments used in hospitals.

  • But quality problems are the precipitating factor in more than 60% of generic drug shortages, according to Health Affairs, which notes how doctors and health systems are taking action independent of the federal government to minimize risks.

Yes, but: The FDA last year cited Valisure for deficiencies testing drugs like the Zantac heartburn pill that the agency said could discourage people from purchasing certain medications, STAT reported.

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