Monday, 19 May 2008

Counterfeit and fake drugs threaten to promote malaria again

Grim news from Uganda's New Vision website: a recent survey has revealed that more than a third of the anti-malarial medicines sold in Kampala are either counterfeit or are not strong enough to cure the disease. This raises the risk of malaria becoming resistant to the new generation of medicines that have replaced chloroquine. In this study, research assistants posing as ordinary customers bought various anti-malarials from randomly selected pharmacies in Kampala. Similar tests, performed in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda and Tanzania, showed that Kenya appeared to have the highest percentage of inefficient drugs (38%), followed by Uganda and Ghana (35%), Rwanda (33%), Tanzania and Nigeria (32%).

The drugs sampled were sulfadoxine-pyromethamine (commonly known as fansidar), amodiaqine (commonly known as camaquin), mefloquine, artesunate, artemether, dihydro-artemisinin and artemether-lumefantrine (commonly known as Coartem). Overall 48% of the sub-standard drugs were made in Africa, while 32% were made in Asia. Contrary to popular belief that European drugs are of high standards, the researchers found that 24% of the sub-standard drugs were of European origin.

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