As if we all had our full dose of news regarding the safety of international food and drug related supply chains, a report yesterday from the HealthDay Reporter site of U.S. News and World Report indicates that U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has now denied entry of more than 30 generic type drugs manufactured by India based drug maker Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd., one of the world’s largest producers of generics.. This ban was initiated because of manufacturing process deficiency concerns within two of Ranbaxy’s factories, which are located in Dewas and Paonta Sahib India, The director of FDA’s Office of Compliance is quoted as indicating that as far back as 2005 the agency received information about possible fraudulent practices by Ranbaxy, and also is quoted as indicating- “The firm is sufficiently out of control that we feel an import alert should be in place until the deficiencies are corrected.”

Meanwhile as I noted in a last weekend  post (Baby Formula Recall in China- Another Product Safety Concern), citizens across China continue to deal with concerns related to a product recall involving tainted powdered milk that was used in the production of baby formula which has sickened hundreds of infants.  China’s largest producer of powdered milk, Sanlu Group, recalled 700 tons of baby formula after it was determined that milk was diluted with water, and that the chemical melamine had apparently been added by certain dairy producers to boost the protein level of the milk.

 A report by CNN is now indicating that China’s agency for food safety is marshalling its resources in an effort to broaden its inspection of that country’s dairy producers, with producers in Hebei, Guaugdong and Heilongjiang provinces, as well as Inner Mongolia now being targeted for inspection.  More disturbing however are reports that the international joint partner of Sanlu Group, New Zealand based Fonterra Co-Operative Group, one of the world’s largest dairy co-operatives, was notified as early as August 2 of the potential contamination, and had been urging board members of Sanlu Group to initiate a product recall  Chinese health officials indicated that they did not act until September 8 to ban the formula in question, since that was the time that both New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark’s government urged action, and officials of Sanlu Group acknowledged the problem.

As an observer of these ongoing incidents involving food and drug related supply chains of developing nations such as India and China, there tends to be a consistent pattern related to the lack of necessary controls, as well as a reluctance or fear involved for any supply chain participants to want to “blow the whistle”.  My advice for supply chain professionals trying to manage with integrity in these environments is to continue to insist on transparency. This is obviously easier stated and difficult to consistently implement within societies driven by the promise of profits at all costs.

In the spirit of education and shared knowledge, I encourage supply chain professionals to add their views and perspectives on these issues in the comments area of this entry. What’s your view on how to manage within this environment?

 Bob Ferrari