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Ranbaxy pays $500M in US fines over massive fraud. Are Indian generics safe?

The news was bad enough for Ranbaxy on Monday: in a US court it admitted to massive, systemic fraud in its manufacturing and testing. A New Jersey website reports that a whistleblower earned almost $50 million in rewards from the US government for turning in his ex employers. It might have read like a series of  expensive bureaucratic mistakes but a long, very detailed story in Fortune exposes a terrifying pattern of deception, “Six other pharma veterans who worked for Ranbaxy in the U.S. as recently as 2010 tell Fortune they found themselves in a corporate culture like nothing they’d ever experienced. Executives approached the regulatory system as an obstacle to be gamed. They bragged about who had most artfully deceived regulators. Until 2005 the company didn’t even have a functioning patient-safety department, and patient complaints piled up in boxes, ignored, uncategorized, and unreported to the FDA as required.” In many markets, India’s largest pharmaceutical manufacturer did no testing at all and simply invented all the data, according to Fortune. The story got rather less coverage in the Indian press: about 300 words in The Hindu but just three paras in the Economic Times.

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