How Some Generic Drugs Could Do More Harm Than Good

For the 16 years that Dr. Brian Westerberg, a Canadian surgeon, worked volunteer missions at the Mulago National Referral Hospital in Kampala, Uganda, scarcity was the norm. The patients usually exceeded the 1,500 allotted beds. Running water was once cut off when the debt-ridden hospital was unable to pay its bills. On some of his early trips, Westerberg even brought over drugs from Canada in order to treat patients. But as low-cost generics made in India and China became widely available through Uganda’s government and international aid agencies in the early 2000s, it seemed at first like the supply issue had been solved. Then on February 7, 2013, Westerberg examined a feverish 13-year-old boy who had fluid oozing from an ear infection. He suspected bacterial meningitis, though he couldn’t confirm his diagnosis because the CT scanner had broken down. The boy was given intravenous ceftriaxone, a broad-spectrum antibiotic that Westerberg believed would cure him. But after four days of treatment, the ear had only gotten worse. As Westerberg prepared to operate, the boy had a seizure. With the CT scanner working again, Westerberg ordered an urgent scan, which revealed small abscesses in the boy’s skull, likely caused by the infection. When a hospital neurosurgeon looked at the images and confidently declared that surgery was unnecessary and the swelling and abscesses would abate with effective antibiotic treatment, Westerberg was confused. They had already tr...
Source: TIME: Health - Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Tags: Uncategorized generic drugs medication medicine Source Type: news

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