Senator proposes country-of-origin labeling for medications

If Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has his way, we soon may be able to read the label of prescription medications and learn where they were manufactured. Sen. Brown recently introduced the Transparency in Drug Labeling Act (S. 3633), arguing that Americans have the right to know where their medications are produced, according to Pharmaceutical Technology.

“With more drug companies buying ingredients and producing products overseas, country-of-origin labeling is more important than ever,” Sen. Brown said in a press release.

Country-of-origin labeling for active pharmaceutical ingredients was initially proposed last April as part of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Globalization Act. Sen. Brown’s proposal would require similar labeling for active ingredients as well as inactive ingredients on both prescription and over-the-counter medications.

The bill comes on the heels of the FDA recall of heparin last spring, which was found to have been contaminated at Baxter International’s China manufacturing plant. The contaminated heparin killed more than 80 people and sickened hundreds more.

The bill coincides with new provisions for country-of-origin labeling of food products. As of September 30, 2008, retailers must notify their customers of the country of origin of commodities outlined by the newly amended Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946.

With so many alarming recalls from China – from contaminated heparin and baby formula to toys laced with lead paint and generators plagued by fire hazard claims – knowing where our medications and food originate will help us all make more informed decisions whether to buy them.