aging parents may be affected by recallWe’ve talked recently about how many Americans over the age of 45 were taking cholesterol lowering medication.  (25% of them!)  Indeed, if you’re caring for aging parents at home, chances are they’re taking a cholesterol lowering medication.  It’s of interest then that the FDA reported recently that Ranbaxy Inc., makers of the generic cholesterol-lowering medication atorvastatin (generic for Lipitor) will stop making the drug until investigations can be completed. Glass particles were discovered in 41 lots of the drug.

Does this mean I’m going to have trouble finding generic Lipitor for my aging parents?

Ranbaxy Inc., supplies more than 40% of the generic version of Lipitor, but the FDA reports that there should be no shortage. Five other companies make generic forms of Lipitor: Sandoz, Teva, Apotex, Mylan, and Dr. Reddy’s.

What kind of problems is this drug going to cause?  Are my loved ones in severe danger?

Somewhat reassuringly, the FDA says the particles of glass that contaminated the drug have only “a remote possibility” of causing problems, and Ranbaxy Inc. notes that the glass may cause “physical irritation.” As of the end of November, the FDA had received no reports of any problems from the drug. However, The Wall Street Journal reported on December 5 that “Ranbaxy is now aware of one patient complaint of an adverse event potentially in connection with the recalled atorvastatin…the company is evaluating whether the recalled drug caused the problem.”

How did all this happen?

At this point, we know that Ranbaxy, Inc., makes atorvastatin and forms it into pills in the US. However, the active ingredient is from India, and an investigation is being pursued that the active ingredient was contaminated there. Ranbaxy officials believe that splintering may have occurred in one of the reactor’s glass lined tanks in the city of Tosana, India. The investigation continues.

 How can I identify the generic Lipitor?

The drug that was recalled is called atorvastatin, and is a white tablet packaged in plastic bottles. On the 10 milligram tablet is the imprint “RX12,” the 20 milligram tablet is imprinted with “RX828,” and the 40 milligram tablet is imprinted with “RX829.” The 80 milligram tablet is not involved with the recall.

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