CVS’s Drugs Recalled Nearly Twice As Often As Walgreens

( – It’s not uncommon for a medication to be recalled, especially if there is a potential safety issue discovered after it hits the market. However, there are stringent protocols in place to ensure that any incidences that do occur are minimal. A recent analysis of the major pharmacy chains in the United States shows that one has far more recalls than the others.

CVS Recalls

Recently, Bloomberg analyzed public records to determine which store-brand over-the-counter pharmaceuticals have been recalled. What it found was that CVS had far more incidences than Walmart and Walgreens combined. Over the past 10 years, there have been 133 concerns with CVS compared to 70 with Walgreens and just 51 with Walmart. The findings reveal that most of the issues with CVS products stem from the facilities where they’re manufactured.

Some of the issues discovered included a child’s nasal spray being manufactured on the same machines where pesticides are made, one factory made kids’ drugs too potent, and another used contaminated water to make pain and fever relief medications.

The drug store isn’t quick to pull medications off its shelves either; 78-year-old Joan Collins purchased eyedrops from the store that were recalled two weeks prior. She ended up with a serious eye infection from a contaminated product manufactured in a factory in India. That factory had a plethora of issues the FDA found during a routine inspection. She has sued the company.

Cost vs. Quality

Professor of medicine at Stanford University, Kevin Schulman, said that CVS doesn’t have much incentive to choose quality over quantity. It routinely chooses factories that make the products at the cheapest cost.

A loophole allows them to do so. Per FDA guidelines, pharmaceutical companies that outsource the production of their medications are “legally responsible for approving or rejecting drugs manufactured” by the facility. With store-brand drugs, that responsibility doesn’t fall on the pharmacy, but rather on the manufacturers themselves.

CVS Response

A spokesperson for CVS, Amy Thibault, noted that the recalls amount to less than 1% of the total drug recalls over the past decade. Further, she says the pharmacy giant prioritizes suppliers who have “good manufacturing and ethical sourcing practices,” at all times.

Yet, in the last 10 years, at least 15 manufacturers contracted by CVS were cited by authorities for issues. This includes Unipharma LLC, a contractor in Florida, which was found in 2019 to be using contaminated water. It contained a bacteria that could prove fatal to children with weakened immune systems.

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