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Counterfeit drugs and their effect on health & healthcare

Counterfeit drugs are killing or greatly harming patients that are desperate for medical care. Estimates state that nearly 700,000 people are killed each year after ingesting counterfeit malaria and tuberculosis drugs.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that up to 30% of medication on the market in developing countries in Africa are counterfeit and have found that nearly 50% of the drugs sold in Angola, Burundi, and the Congo are of poor quality. Furthermore, nearly two-thirds of anti-malaria drugs in Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Vietnam contain insufficient active ingredients.

A 2003 Interpol survey on the quality of drugs available in Lagos, sub-Saharan Africa’s most populous city concluded that 80% of the drugs available were fakes. In 2008, more than 80 children in Nigeria died after being given medicine that looked, smelled, and tasted like the real thing, but was laced with antifreeze.

Why are the numbers so high? Jacqueline Sawyer, Liaison Officer at WHO’s Prequalification of Medicines Programme, told MediaGlobal “The problem of counterfeit medicines is more prevalent in countries where medicine regulation is ineffective, smuggling of medicines is rampant, secret manufacturing exists, sanctions are absent or very weak, and there is high corruption.”

Do not think counterfeit or tampered drugs only exist in developing countries. An estimated 1% of all medicines dispensed in developed countries are counterfeit. Medicines containing boric acid and other lethal substances have been found recently in certain medications.

To be sure that your drug is safe to use, check the FDA’s website. They announce drugs that might have been tampered with and also have correct packaging and dosage information.
Recent FDA Headlines:
FDA Warns About Fraudulent Tamiflu
Warning: Counterfeit Alli
FDA Issues Warning on Counterfeit Surgical Mesh

Full article here.
FDA here.

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