Fake Drugs a ‘Global Pandemic,’ Scientists Say

     (CN) – Fake and poor-quality medicines have become a “global pandemic” that could undermine advances in the treatment of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, the National Institutes of Health said Monday.
     According to the editors of a collection of 17 journal articles published Monday, scientists report that up to 41 percent of medications did not meet quality standards in global studies of about 17,000 samples
     One of the articles found that fake and substandard malaria drugs caused an estimated 122,350 deaths of African children in 2013.
     Other studies uncovered poor-quality antibiotics that could harm health and increase antimicrobial resistance, the NIH said.
     Former U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, M.D., said globalization has added layers of complexity to the drug supply chain that requires greater oversight.
     “Today’s medical-product landscape blurs the line between domestic and foreign production, drawing attention to the need for global quality and safety oversight to prevent patient exposure to falsified products,” Hamburg wrote in an introductory essay for the articles’ publication.
     However, scientists said new methods of detecting fake and poor-quality drugs are emerging and have shown promise. One of the tests is economical and portable enough to identify low-quality anti-malaria medicines in the field, the NIH reported.
     Scientists urged “an urgent and coordinated international response to address the pandemic of poor quality drugs,” including a global agreement similar to the one used to fight tobacco use and stricter national laws to prosecute those who knowingly sell fake drugs.

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