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Generic Drugs Are Poisoning Us; Trump Claims China will Pay for Bailout; Weinstein Reaches Settlement; Colin Quinn's "Red State Blue State". Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired May 24, 2019 - 08:30   ET



[08:30:09] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Now to a story that touches nearly every American. In the United States, nine out of every ten prescription medications are filled with generic drugs. More than 40 percent of those drugs are made in India, 80 percent of the ingredients are made overseas. And it turns out some of them are dangerous.

All of this is revealed in the new book, "Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom," warns that they could be poisoning us.

And the author, Katherine Eban, joins us now.

Katherine, great to have you here.


CAMEROTA: What an investigation that you have done for years about the generic drug industry. And it turns out that when our doctors tell us, well, they're exactly the same as the name brand, you can take the generic, they're not telling the truth.

EBAN: Right. Well, there is widespread fabrication of quality data in plants overseas. So in my ten-year investigation of this industry, what I discovered is that in the Indian and Chinese plants that are making the majority of our generic drugs, they are gaming a system, the FDA announces its inspections in advance overseas, these companies are falsifying data, fabricating data, removing hidden equipment, concealing hidden equipment and basically running a sort of hidden laboratory operation in which they are fabricating quality data.

CAMEROTA: And here are some of the dangerous side effects, or I should say by-products, I guess, of all of this. So, some of the generic drugs don't dissolve properly. They have too little active ingredient, which is, of course, the medicine part of it. They contain toxic impurities you found, including shards of glass. And, of course, there can been severe health consequences. You have examples of heart transplant patients who have suffered organ rejection. That's terrible.

EBAN: Yes. And the FDA's position on this is that, in fact, the bio equivalence data is fine, that the drugs are OK and the foreign inspections are under control. But, in fact, you know, once I looked more closely at this, what you see is a hidden system of operations that sometimes the FDA has exposed and sometimes it hasn't.

CAMEROTA: We got a statement from the FDA about your book and about your findings. This is from Dr. Janet Woodcock, who's' the director for the drug evaluation and research. She says, Americans can be confident in the quality of the products the FDA approves. The FDA inspects all brand name and generic manufacturing facilities around the world. As drug manufacturing has globalized over the years, we have modernized our policies to ensure that companies, regardless of where they are located, meet the FDA's strict standards. We've conducted a number of unannounced inspections at foreign manufacturing facilities, a critical approach when we have information from a whistleblower or when the FDA is investigating a drug safety issue.

So you're saying that that is not the whole truth.

EBAN: Here's what's not in that statement. From 2014 through mid-2015, the FDA conducted a pilot program to do every inspection in India unannounced or on short notice. Once they did that, they found bird infestations, they found plants that were actually fabricating their sterility data, proving that the plants were sterile and safe. But the FDA discontinued that program and went back to announced -- pre- announced inspections. And my sources say that those inspections are essentially staged by the companies.

CAMEROTA: So many people rely on generic drugs. They are less expensive. I mean, anytime a pharmacist says to me, do you want the generic, I say, of course, because they're less expensive and I have always believed that, well, they're -- you're getting the exact same thing, you're just not getting the name brand.

So what are you suggesting for viewers who are concerned about which drugs they should be taking now?

EBAN: So most of your viewers are probably switched from one generic to another to another when they go to the pharmacy. They need to pay attention to who is making those drugs. That name is on the dispensing label. And they have to pay attention to which of those versions works for them and try to get their pharmacies to keep them on that version that's effective.

The other thing they can do is just a Google search, FDA and warning letter and the name of their drug manufacturer. Has that company been found to have fabricated data? That information is part of public record.

The problem, though, is that there's a fundamental lack of transparency, which is the name of the manufacturer -- excuse me -- the location of the manufacturing is not on the dispensing label. That needs to change because you know where your shirt is made, you know where your cereal is made and you don't know where your drugs are made.

CAMEROTA: But are you suggesting that if it's made somewhere other than the U.S. you should not take that generic?

[08:35:02] EBAN: Well, my reporting suggests that the further you get from FDA headquarters in Maryland, the more risk there is fundamentally. So when you're talking about plants that are 7,000 miles away, where inspections are pre-announced, I think there's a problem.

I'll give you an example. I feature in the book an FDA investigator named Peter Baker. Over the course of five years, he did 86 inspections in India and China, 67 of those he found data fraud, fabrication and deception. That's like four-fifths of the plants he walked into.

CAMEROTA: People can read more about it in "Bottle of Lies" by Katherine Eban. It's a great book and a real alarm that you're sounding for all of us.

Thanks so much for being here.

EBAN: Thank you for having me.

CAMEROTA: Great to talk to you.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, thanks, Alisyn.

Harvey Weinstein has reached a settlement related to civil lawsuits over alleged sexual misconduct. What does this mean for the more than 80 women who have accused him of wrongdoing? That's next.


[08:39:55] BERMAN: All right, President Trump has announced a new $16 billion bailout for farmers hurt by the trade war. He has falsely claimed that China will pay for it. Farmers in Iowa say they welcome the aid, but they have made it clear what they really want is to get this trade back.

CNN's Miguel Marquez is live at a farm in Slater, Iowa.

Miguel, what are you hearing?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, a very rainy day here in Slater.

And, look, the president calls the Chinese tariffs unjustified, but they also came after the president had imposed tariffs of his own. He's promising $14.5 billion in payments directly to farmers, another $1.4 billion to purchase excess crops, another $100 million to try to find new markets for these farmers.

Farmers I spoke to in Iowa across the board, whether Democrat or Republican, say, thank you, that is very helpful, but we would much rather get back to free market principles.


AARON LEHMAN, IOWA FARMER: Farmers have been put right at the front lines of an unnecessary trade war. And it's impacting farmers more than anybody else in our economy. We've been producing corn, soybeans below the cost of production for a number of years now and this on top of that means the farmers are losing even more money. They're looking to find ways to stay afloat. So they're tightening their belts. They're talking to their bankers. They're talking to their other lenders. They're talking to their input suppliers, their landlords, trying to negotiate just to make ends meet. So we're really at a very dangerous spot from a farmer's pocketbook.


MARQUEZ: So as time goes on, the uncertainty in the market only grows. It becomes more and more difficult for farmers here to make choices, difficult choices that they have to make. Younger farmers, farmers that are less established, all of them now in greater and greater peril of shutting down. We're already starting to hear those stories.

And even if everything went back to normal today, it would take months or years to get those markets back.

Back to you guys.

CAMEROTA: That's really interesting, Miguel. Thank you for that context.

So now to this, Harvey Weinstein striking a settlement in the civil sexual misconduct lawsuits against him. It's to the tune of $44 million, but not all of that is going to his victims.

Here to explain is Brynn Gingras. She joins us with more.

What's this about?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it will be interesting to see if this makes everyone happy.

But that money is coming from insurance policies not Weinstein himself according to his brother Bob Weinstein's attorney Adam Harris. Now, Harris mentioned this deal in court to a bankruptcy judge in Delaware. The proposed settlement is in response to a New York attorney general civil lawsuit filed last year against Harvey and Bob Weinstein and their former film studio, Weinstein Company, which the brothers sold a year ago.

The AG's suit claimed egregious violations of New York's civil rights, human rights and business laws and also noted claims of employee victim sexual harassment, intimidation and other misconduct. Of course, many of these accounts we've heard about, right, dozens, and we've reported on them. According to a source, this is how the $44 million settlement would be divvied up, $14 million would go to legal fees to Weinstein associates who are named as defendants in the lawsuit and then $30 million will go to alleged victims, creditors and former employees of the Weinstein Company. Now, one of the victims named is actress Paz de la Huerta, who accused

Weinstein of rape on two occasions back in 2010. Her lawyer says this settlement is, quote, positive for the victims involved and this helps them avoid the stress and trauma of full litigation. We'll see what others say.

Now, the details of this settlement still need to be approved by the judge at a hearing in June and Weinstein's spokesman and the attorney general's office would not comment about this.

Now, let's keep in mind, this has no bearing on the criminal charges. Weinstein is still facing five criminal charges and that trial does begin in September.


BERMAN: I'm curious to see how this plays out because there's some odd things to that settlement.

Thanks, Brynn.

It is Memorial Day weekend and for many people that means kicking off the summer and spending time with loved ones. But the holiday, which honors the service members who have given their lives for our country, it can be difficult for people mourning a family member. This week's CNN Hero lost her father when she was 14 and struggled with depression for more than a decade. Now Mary Robinson is making sure that other children don't lose years of their lives to unresolved grief.


BELLA: My name is Bella and my dad died.

MARY ROBINSON, CNN HERO: Kids in grief are kids at risk.

JAYDEN (ph): MY name is Jayden and my mom died.

ROBINSON: Time does not heal all wounds. Time helps, but it's what you do with that time. And what you need to do is mourn.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you hear other people's stories, it kind of brings comfort.

ROBINSON: So that's why a place like Imagine exists to give children a place to mourn their loss and find out that they're not alone.


BERMAN: To meet some of the families that Mary is helping and to nominate someone you think should be a CNN Hero, go to

CAMEROTA: That looks really helpful.

[08:44:55] All right, on a lighter note, Colin Quinn's "Red State Blue State" going from off Broadway to a CNN comedy special. It premieres on Memorial Day and Colin Quinn is going to be with us and making us laugh, next.


[08:50:26] BERMAN: A new CNN original series poses a provocative question, is it time for the United States to become un-united and to divide into smaller countries? Comedian Colin Quinn makes the case looking at the vitriolic rhetoric and hypocrisy on both sides of the political debate.

Here's a preview.


COLIN QUINN, COMEDIAN: And I understand it's sad breaking up the United States, but we're already broken up. This would just be acknowledging it. We're already tribal. We've broken into tribes already. It's over. Liberal, conservative, white, black, Latino, Asian, Wall Street, main street, the working poor, the forgotten middle class, feminists, soccer moms, Bernie bros, Dodd (ph) bods, man tips (ph), mom jeans, muffin tops, unibrows, paleo, cardio, kido (ph), intersexual (ph) transvegans (ph). We're more tribal than 18th century Afghanistan.


CAMEROTA: That's good.

BERMAN: All right, joining us now is Colin Quinn, comedian and creator of "Colin Quinn: Red State Blue State." I believe that is the full title of the special.


BERMAN: And we're going to see that on Memorial Day at 9:00 p.m.

Look, there are people laughing there. I think you raise a very important, serious question. We used to like to say there's more that unites us than divides us. Is that really true?

QUINN: Right. No. I mean I think -- I think that -- I think sometimes you need a wake-up call in this country, obviously. Only -- only the sickest people that love to fight are enjoying this country right now, you know what I mean? Nobody can be -- except if you like tension and fighting, then that's the only way you would enjoy living like in this country.

CAMEROTA: But are we hopelessly divided or is this a moment in time?

QUINN: Well, it looks like a trial separation, like a divorce. Let's trially (ph) separate, and, you know, break it up and see if we can -- if we -- if we're happier alone.

CAMEROTA: You're actually recommending we break up?

QUINN: I'm saying we have brunch with the Balkans and go, how are you guys doing these days? Like, you know what, I have less money but I'm happier. I have more of my freedom. I can be myself for a change. I don't know.

BERMAN: But, again, it gets to the issue, you know, do people in some of these blue states truly have anything in common with --

QUINN: In the red and blue states?


QUINN: Yes. well, like you say, in Cambridge and Plano, I mean, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Plano, Texas, these are different -- these are different societies, do you know what I mean?

CAMEROTA: Yes, but which one should secede? Should New York secede from --

QUINN: Both.

CAMEROTA: Everybody should secede from the union?

QUINN: No, I'm saying break up. Yes, I'm not saying --

CAMEROTA: There's no more union. Every -- you're just state by state from now, that's your --

QUINN: Well, you could do sections, I guess, you know what I mean, like the NCAA has divisions.


QUINN: But even those divisions don't really work. Suddenly you're in the big east but you're in the Midwest, you know.

BERMAN: The big east doesn't exist anymore. That's the problem.

QUINN: I know.

BERMAN: Once they break up the big east, it all goes to pot.

QUINN: Yes. Well, so we'll have to figure it out.

BERMAN: So what possessed you to do this?

QUINN: Because this -- you know, the same thing every -- it's what everybody's -- it's what we all feel right now, like, what's going on? Why are we -- because I just hate the way -- I -- I don't like living in a place that annoys me, you know what I mean? I'm annoyed to begin with. So, you know, then when everybody's fighting all the time, I'm like, what is this? Is this just where we're going to go? Like this is -- there's going to be every day, you know?

CAMEROTA: But how did we get so divided? I mean I know that you don't think that President Trump is the cause. He's the symptom. So how --

QUINN: He's the symptom, yes.

CAMEROTA: He's the symptom of the fact that we're all feeling sort of vitriolic and --

QUINN: When he's gone -- this is not cured when he's gone. People want it to be this one person. When he's gone, we're still going to be like this.

CAMEROTA: But how did we get like this?

QUINN: He doesn't enhance things.

CAMEROTA: He doesn't help, you're saying?


CAMEROTA: But how did we get this way? How did we get so divided?

QUINN: I mean we were all like this way from day one, 13 colonies.

CAMEROTA: Were we?

QUINN: Yes, the original Constitution convention, that's when they should have broken up.

CAMEROTA: Yes, but, I mean, obviously there were times of union. I mean there were times that we were all closer.

QUINN: I know but it's just -- you know, we're all like, ah, you know what I mean, it was a great idea and sometimes we can sort of get together, but I feel like social media made everybody realize -- see each other the way they really were. In the old days you didn't have to see everybody. Nobody had to see other people. So like, oh, yes, I heard they do that down there, but that's probably not true. And now you have to look in reality.

BERMAN: So you think it was a bad idea to begin with, this whole America thing?

QUINN: I think that we should have stayed as the confederation. Yes, I don't think -- I think the constitutional convention was a mistake.


QUINN: And I have a whole show on the Constitution, too, I did do.

CAMEROTA: Constitution, friend or foe.

OK, so we have another clip. Let's play another clip from the special.


QUINN: America, two parties still all these years later, two parties. There's 350 million people and there's two parties. There's 15 genders and there's two parties. There's four bathrooms and there's two parties.


CAMEROTA: You make a good point.

QUINN: It's so primitive. The same amount of parties as when we started with 1 million people and now there's 350 million people. And if you don't march in lockstep with one of those two parties, you're kind of a centrist, which is the new bad word. Centrist is the new extremist.

[08:55:09] CAMEROTA: That's such a good point. It's not working. I mean I hear it all the time, just anecdotally, that the two-party system isn't working because people are cobbling together their own platform. You know, I like a little bit from here, I like a little bit from here, I like this.

QUINN: Right.

CAMEROTA: And -- but that -- no party reflects that.

QUINN: No. Exactly. And social media I feel like it -- the extremists now influence where everybody running for president or being president is like you have to go along with the most extreme, the most vitriolic, the most aggressive part of your party because social media makes them these ones that stand out.

BERMAN: So -- so your -- you call yourself a centrist more or less.


BERMAN: What's your platform? When you run for president --

QUINN: What's my platform?


QUINN: I -- I mean, that's -- you know, it's -- on what issue? I mean there's a million issues. You name one and I'll tell you.

BERMAN: Who -- after you want to divide America up again and get rid of the Constitution --

QUINN: Right.

CAMEROTA: What's your plan?

BERMAN: What's your plan?

QUINN: Well, I mean, there's a lot of different parts to a plan. You guys are talking about a complex president -- you can't just say -- look, (INAUDIBLE) one issue.

CAMEROTA: I feel like you're being noncommittal. You're going to break us all up --

QUINN: No, just give me an issue and I'll tell you the platform for that part of it.

CAMEROTA: Immigration. QUINN: All right, immigration. You take anybody that's here, anybody

from a country that's here illegally, they have to trade with somebody here that we don't like that is a citizen has to go to that country.

BERMAN: How about political correctness?

QUINN: Oh, I mean that's -- you know, the comedy killer, number one. Everyone's like, oh, no, it's fine. It's like, yes, it's great, really great. People are afraid -- people are -- I was talking to people who are afraid to (INAUDIBLE) the weather they go, it's a nice sunny day, no that there's -- I'm not heliocentric, I -- there's a western construct to enjoy the sun, is also the rain is very important. Like, you're just afraid to say anything.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my God.

QUINN: Because they get fired.

CAMEROTA: Colin Quinn. The special is "Red State Blue State" Sunday night, right?

BERMAN: Monday night.

CAMEROTA: Sunday night -- no, Memorial Day, sorry, 9:00 -- Memorial Day, 9:00 p.m., that's Monday night. Can't wait to see it all.

QUINN: Thanks guys.

CAMEROTA: Thanks so much for being here.

BERMAN: Welcome to the family.

QUINN: Thank you so much.

CAMEROTA: Great to have you.

All right, President Trump has given Attorney General William Barr unprecedented powers to declassified intelligence related to yet again the Russia probe. Our coverage picks up after this break.