Monday, December 19, 2005

The Scourge of Fake Drugs on Fighting Malaria
Continuing our search for fact-based analysis, we compiled this data on the challenges facing global health organizations battling malaria. Worldwide, 645 million people are at risk from malaria. Prompt access to treatment with effective, safe medicines, such as artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) and insecticide treated nets, saves lives:
  • A recent study in The Lancet concluded that up to 40% of artusenate products (the most effective drug against malaria) contain no active ingredients.
  • A study conducted in South-East Asia in 2001 revealed that 38% of 104 antimalarial drugs on sale in pharmacies did not contain any active ingredients. There were forged holograms on fake artesunate blisterpacks bought in Vietnam and Cambodia.
  • The WHO reported that in 1999, at least 30 people died in Cambodia after taking counterfeit antimalarials
  • According to the "Roll Back Malaria Partnership", counterfeit insecticide treated nets are now proliferating, due to the difficulty of obtaining the real thing.

What is lacking is an effective solution, appropriate for these countries, and the level of education available to NGOs and consumers.