Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364 or rescntr@ire.org where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "generic" ...

  • Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom

    The widespread use of generic drugs has been hailed as one of the most important public health developments of the twenty-first century. Today, 90 percent of the U.S. pharmaceutical market is comprised of generic drugs, the majority of which are manufactured overseas. We have been reassured by our doctors, our pharmacists and our regulators that generic drugs are identical to their brand-name counterparts, just less expensive. But is this really true? Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom exposes for the first time the endemic fraud behind generic drug manufacturing –and the attendant risks for global public health.The narrative investigation interweaves the stories of a determined whistleblower, an intrepid FDA investigator and drug manufacturers determined to deceive regulators. Reported on four continents over a ten-year period, and drawing on 20,000 pages of confidential FDA documents, the book uncovers how one of the world’s greatest public health innovations also became one of its most astonishing swindles. Bottle of Lies uncovers a global industry where companies routinely falsify quality data, and executives circumvent almost every principle of safe manufacturing to minimize cost and maximize profit. Meanwhile, patients unwittingly consume medicine with unpredictable and dangerous effects.
  • The Drug Trade

    Our graphic story and accompanying interactive summarized an analysis of generic and brand-name price increases for thousands of drugs. While smaller startup and investment companies grabbed headlines with dramatic increases in drug prices, our investigation showed that big pharmaceutical companies like AstraZeneca and Novartis raised prices by as much as 250 times over three years.
  • Pay for Delay

    Are generic drugs delayed to market by so-called “pay-for-delay” deals between brand and generic drug manufacturers? PBS NewsHour Weekend investigated these deals and other practices that opponents like the Federal Trade Commission say are meant to impede generic competition and protect profits. PBS NewsHour Weekend profiled Karen Winkler, a 46-year-old mother of three with Multiple Sclerosis. A deal was struck over her M.S. drug that opponents say delayed the generic to market. Then, the manufacturer raised the price to get patients to switch to its new extended-release version. Unable to afford it, Karen went off the drug until it went generic in 2012. PBS NewsHour Weekend shed light on complicated, secretive pharmaceutical deals rarely examined on national TV. These deals affect thousands of patients, but few know anything about them. And in cases like Winkler’s, they can have profound consequences.
  • Indian Drug Company Investigation

    The first part of our story profiled a whistleblower who exposed massive fraud at Ranbaxy, a multi-billion dollar Indian generic drug company that sold adulterated drugs to millions of Americans for years. The company sold these drugs to millions of Americans while lieing to the FDA claiming the drugs worked and could fight such life threatening illnesses like cancer, AIDS, diabetes and infections. The second part of our story revealed that despite the company’s claims, the company has ongoing serious manufacturing problems. In fact, just two weeks after CBS left a Ranbaxy plant in India, the FDA banned all finished drugs coming into the US from Ranbaxy. However, our story also revealed that while the FDA banned all finished drugs, the company is still continues to make the key ingredients for drugs sold to Americans today– including such popular drugs as Astra Zeneca’s Nexium. At the center of our story was the whistleblower, Dinesh Thakur, who had never done a television interview. The risks that Thakur took in exposing his company led to a massive federal false claims lawsuit that aided the federal criminal investigation and rewarded Thakur with $49 million. According to one federal agent who worked on the case for seven years, without Thakur “there would have been no investigation and no criminal conviction.” We were alarmed to find in our reporting that so many of the key players in the federal investigation had made personal decisions based on what they learned to never take a Ranbaxy drug. Three Justice Department attorneys, six former Ranbaxy employees, one former FDA criminal investigator and two Congressional investigators (Democrat and a Republican) all told CBS News that they would never take a Ranbaxy drug, nor would they allow a family member to do so. Each shared with us personal anecdotes of finding Ranbaxy drugs in family members’ medicine cabinets or receiving a prescription at a drug store only to tell the pharmacist that they must have a different brand. For this reason we felt strongly that it was important to notify our audience of the risks with this company. We also informed our audience that foreign drug makers are not subject to the same strong oversight that drug makers in the US face every day. For example, drug makers in the US face unannounced inspections. Despite efforts to beef up foreign FDA inspections, foreign companies are still notified in advance of upcoming inspections. In the US there is one FDA inspector for every 9 phamaceutical facilities. In India there is one FDA inspector for every 105 facilities. CBS News also tracked down half a dozen other former Ranbaxy employees who told CBS what they witnessed at the company both in the United States and in India. Two top employees went on camera to share their experiences.
  • Costly Generics

    Generic drugs now make up around 80 percent of prescriptions filled, and many assume generics are always cheap. But a PBS NewsHour Weekend investigation found that’s not always the case. Retail prices for generic drugs can vary wildly from pharmacy to pharmacy – a fact few consumers know anything about. The story was very personal for PBS NewsHour Weekend correspondent Megan Thompson, whose mother Carol discovered that the cost of a month’s supply of her generic breast cancer drug Letrozole ranged from around $10 to more than $400 at pharmacies around the Twin Cities. Thompson also spoke to Lisa Gill at Consumer Reports who led a national survey of retail prices for five new generics. Gill said their results were unprecedented - the biggest price variations they’d ever seen in a drug pricing study. The consequences of these huge price variations can be dire. The uninsured, or people with inadequate drug coverage or high deductibles, could overpay by hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Or, they could end up going without medications they need. Thompson interviewed Lisa Duncan of Brooklyn Park, MN, who is bipolar and has a history of suicide attempts. After she became uninsured, she couldn’t afford a big-name chain’s price of more than $100 for one of her prescriptions, so she left the store empty-handed. Duncan says she found the same drug at CostCo for a tenth of the price and was able take the drug again as needed. As the nation grapples with skyrocketing health care costs, “Costly Generics” is an important consumer story that shines a light on the murky prescription drug marketplace, where it’s hard to know how much drugs are supposed to cost, and is very difficult to find or compare prices. And vulnerable populations who need medications the most – the elderly, or chronically ill -- may also be the least likely to have to have the resources to navigate this opaque marketplace. One viewer wrote that after watching the story, she called around and found her prescription for $28 at a local drug store, compared to $72 at CVS.
  • Ranbaxy

    Dirty Medicine is the inside story of long-term criminal fraud at Ranbaxy, the Indian drug company that makes generic Lipitor for millions of Americans.
  • Crime Data Investigation

    The initial story in the crime data investigation found that from 2009 to early 2012 the Milwaukee Police Department misreported more than 500 aggravated assaults as lesser offenses not counted in the city’s violent crime tally. More than 800 additional cases followed the same pattern but couldn’t be verified with available records. Subsequent stories found police underreported aggravated assaults even when their own officers were severely injured; police clerks routinely changed dangerous weapon codes to generic ones in a way that allowed violent assaults to be underreported — and escape FBI scrutiny; the FBI’s crime auditing process is a fig leaf — metro police departments are rarely audited, and even then the sample sizes are too small to draw meaningful conclusions; Milwaukee police knew they misreported rapes and robberies, but didn’t mention this to city leaders or the public; high-ranking department officials raised red flags internally for years that there were problems but the public only heard a drumbeat that crime was down. In addition to these major installments, Poston and Diedrich wrote nearly two dozen follow-up stories that documented the fallout.
  • Bad Bargain

    This article identifies several people who suffered consequences after switching from brand name drugs to generic ones. Furthermore, this article identifies loopholes that allow these generic drugs to reach the market. These generics, many of us believe are the same as the brand name ones, are actual substandard and un-equivalent.
  • Divine Intervention: U.S. AIDS Policy

    "The Center’s year-long investigation revealed how rigid rules and funding earmarks of President's Bush $15-billion initiative to fight HIV/AIDS abroad- the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief- hinder effective HIV programming and frustrate countries struggling with the pandemic."
  • Generic Drugs: Shop Around For the Best Deals

    Consumer Reports examines the high cost of generic drugs, with the understanding that "some generic drugs cost pharmacies just pennies per pill, but they can turn around and sell them to people who lack insurance for as much as they wish." Consumer Reports asked 132 pharmacies around the U.S. their prices for five common prescription generic drugs. Costco is the least expensive pharmacy, charging $52 for a 30-day supply. Online distributor teldrug.com was the most expensive, charging $228 for the same generic drugs. The story gives consumers this information to aid in their search for the best deal on generic drugs.