The Dark side of Drugs









In the past few years, drug companies have been neglecting their factories and operating under illegal conditions. Six of the major drug companies for injectable drugs have been warned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about serious violations of manufacturing rules. Four of these six have actually been forced to close factories and significantly slow production in order to fix the problems. A few of the extreme violations include inspectors finding bugs floating in viles of drugs, morphine containing up to twice the labeled dosage, manufacturing plants with rusty tools and mold in production areas, and in one extreme case- a barrel of urine in the midst of the operating facility.

A lot of these violations have caused drug companies to produce faulty product, which in in turn results in a recall of their drugs; costing the company thousands of dollars in lawsuits and causing the factories to work over time to make up for the lack of product from the recall. So, why are these problems  not getting fixed?  It sounds like cleaning a factory or shutting it down for a bit in order to fix problems to meet healthy and safety codes can’t be too difficult, right?  Well, the drug companies keep brushing their violations under the rug and biting the bullet and paying for the fines because stopping production for them is too costly. The drug companies would rather pay the fine and keep producing rather than shut down for a couple days. In a business where profits are driven by volume, shutting down means huge losses. Many of the basic drugs are already selling for less than a dollar a vile and are made in batches of tens of thousands of viles. Many times, these viles run on lines that operate for 24 hours at a time.

This problem is then made even worse when patents on drugs expire, causing other companies to make the same drug and sell it at a lower price. This cut throat environment between companies competing for the lowest production costs is taking its tole by resulting in recalls of drugs and even outbreaks of sicknesses from various medicines produced in unclean manufacturing plants.

After learning about quality management in our last class, I think drug company standards need to change and laws should be put into place that require these companies to operate under six sigma or ISO 9000 quality standards. Recalls on drugs have the potential to be deadly, and drug companies should’t need to put profit above the importance of adhering to health and safety standards. After learning about quality management, inventory management, and operations strategy, do you have any ideas on a solution to this problem? Do you think that the FDA should enforce their laws in more standardized way? Will this become a never ending problem due to implicit conditions?



Sitting On Sustainable Luxury, A Process Not Many People Appreciate!

Have you ever thought about how much time and effort it takes to produce the chair and sofa you sit on, or the bed you sleep on?

I can certainly relate to the chapters we studied relating to product design, and quality management and international standards. Working for a furniture company, I get to watch training videos of how our products are produced. I must admit furniture design is very intense. Every chair, bed, and table has to be designed according to the ergonomics of the human body, as well as international standards; since our furniture is sold worldwide. Every piece is designed to assure comfort, convenience and style. Along with product design, the main focus has now become on “ecodesign”, the following is the statement our company shares regarding sustainability:  “Like any industrial product, furniture is a source of environmental impact. Thereby participating in its degradation to the extent that it requires materials and energy, it must be transported and packaged, it can be maintained and repaired, and it will one day become a waste… This policy is now inseparable to our commitments of quality and creativity.” This statement clearly shows our company’s use of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).

Our furniture pieces are designed by top European designers, creators and architects. Every piece of furniture produced goes through a very long production cycle. Furniture design begins with creativity, followed by design with the use of software such as Computer-aided design (CAD), and Design for manufacture and assembly (DFMA). Once the design is completed digitally, a prototype is then produced with the use of human labor as well as Computer-aided manufacturing (CAM). The prototype is then tested by the designer and management.

Quality management is of crucial importance when it comes to the furniture we sell. To assure quality our furniture is only made with solid wood from environmentally sustainable forests, and the fabrics and leathers used in our furniture go through a series of detailed tests. Our fabrics go through a rub test, known as Martindale Test, which tests a fabric’s durability by counting the number of rubs it takes for a fabric to wear out. If a fabric wears out before 30,000 rubs then it is not durable, the most durable are fabrics from 30,000 to 100,000 rubs. Our leathers also go through a series of different testing methods such as absorbency, burning and stretching. A thorough inspection of the materials used is done by experts who “have the eye” to spot mistakes or natural defects. Some natural defects are usually found in leather. Since it comes from cows, some cows might get scars which are then found in the leather. A piece of furniture will only go into production, once it meets the European Furniture Standards and passes quality control.

Now that you have a better understanding about the creation of sustainable furniture, can you relate the importance of product design and quality management to other daily life objects?