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International News

Counterfeit Medicines Pose Increasing Risk to Patients Worldwide, U.N. Agency Says

May 13, 2011

Counterfeit medications are posing an increasing threat to patients' health worldwide, because they offer high returns and low risks for criminal organizations, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said in a statement on Friday, Agence France-Presse reports. According to the AFP, WHO estimates that "three in 10 pharmaceutical products in the combined African, Asian and Latin American markets are fake. And 50 to 60 percent of anti-infective medications in parts of Asia and Africa have been shown to have active ingredients outside of acceptable limits" (5/13).


"Beyond the direct impact on the victims, substandard medicines can, amongst others, also fuel microbial resistance," the statement said, adding, "Health experts have warned that each under-medicated patient becomes an evolutionary vector though which 'superbugs' can develop, posing a global threat to public health." With the problem not limited to developing countries, delegates at last month's Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in Vienna urged UNODC to collaborate with other U.N. agencies and international organizations "to assist countries in responding to this growing threat," the statement notes (5/12).

WHO, Pharma's Role in Fighting Counterfeit Drugs

A Lancet editorial calls for the World Health Assembly to pursue "with vigour" a treaty to "make counterfeit medicines illegal," and states that it should follow "the model of another successful WHO treaty, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control." While the drug industry has said it would support such an agreement, the Lancet says it can do more. "The case for open data sharing in science is made in a Comment" in the Lancet, the editorial notes (5/14).

Back to other news for May 2011

This information was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery. © Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
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