Schumer Warns of Chinese-Made Over-the-Counter Medications

November 18, 2019 Updated: November 18, 2019

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) warned consumers over the weekend that some over-the-counter medications are made in China and said stores should stop selling the Chinese-made items.

Schumer said the products, which don’t require a prescription, such as skin creams and cosmetics, can cause infections and nausea, among other ailments.

“You figure if you’re buying something without a prescription, it’s safe and it’s good. That is not necessarily the case when it comes to some of these products,” Schumer told reporters outside a Dollar Tree discount store in New York City, according to the New York Post.

“What makes it even more serious is we don’t exactly know which ones might be dangerous because China has such poor labeling, you don’t know what they put into each of these drugs.”

Schumer said that federal officials should take action, holding up a letter that he recently sent to acting Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Mark Morgan.

Schumer wrote to Morgan requesting that the agency “begin a targeted crackdown” on the made-in-China drugs, Newsday reported.

“CBP and FDA should double their efforts to work hand-in-glove to ensure these products are turned away and American companies who might receive them are held accountable,” the letter reads.

Schumer said retailers should throw out any “bad” products.

The Dollar Tree store in Chantilly, Va., on Jan. 2, 2015. Dollar Tree is INVESTING heavily to improve logistics and distribution. (Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)
A Dollar Tree store in a file picture. (Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

“The feds cannot pass the buck and allow ‘dollar’ type stores across our area to receive bad or even dangerous over-the-counter drugs in the first place, and the retailers in question need to toss any bad product right now,” he said, according to the New York Daily News.

Schumer said all stores operated by Dollar Tree’s parent company, Greenbrier International Inc., sell made-in-China products and that Chinese manufacturers “don’t have the kind of safety structure that we would have in place if something were made here in the U.S., so when they’re imported, they can be very dangerous.”

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent a warning letter to Greenbrier earlier this month, saying FDA inspections showed adulterated drugs from Chinese manufacturers, including from Shanghai Weierya Daily Chemicals Factory and Hangzhou Zhongbo Industrial Co.

Both companies failed to test each batch of drug prior to release and were placed on import alerts.

“We note that during the inspection of your corporate headquarters, you stated that if you were made aware that a warning letter was issued to one of your suppliers or contract manufacturers, you would not purchase over-the-counter (OTC) drug products from that contract manufacturer any longer,” the agency stated.

“Additionally, in your Feb. 5, 2019 response, you state, ‘If a drug product is placed on Import Alert 66-40 (appearing not to comply with drug manufacturing CGMPs), Greenbrier ceases importing drug products from that establishment.’ The import data detailed above demonstrate this is not always the case.”

CGMP is an acronym for Current Good Manufacturing Practice.

“Considering that FDA has found a pattern of drug manufacturers with serious CGMP violations in your supply chain, in response to this letter, provide a detailed plan to ensure you do not receive or deliver adulterated drugs in interstate commerce, in violation of section 301 (c) of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C. 331(c),” the letter stated.

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