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  • Conversation: Counterfeiting in the pharmaceutical industry

    • February 6, 2018 12:55 PM GMT
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      Counterfeiting in the pharmaceutical industry

      Pharmaceutical products (medicine) form an important and vital part of any country’s healthcare system. Yet the presence of counterfeit pharmaceuticals has become a global dilemma which poses serious threat to an effective health care system and in some cases, citizen’s constitutional rights to health care. These counterfeit pharmaceuticals are not isolated to so called “poor countries” as it can also effect developing countries, such as South Africa, due to, inter alia illiteracy and improved quality of some of the counterfeit pharmaceutical products.
      A consequence of counterfeit pharmaceuticals which contain lower than required levels of active ingredients is the development of drug resistant strains of the diseases which the original pharmaceuticals product is meant to combat. It has been proven that some of the counterfeit medicine commonly contains floor polish, corn starch, dust, potato starch, chalk, acid, heavy metals or arsenic. Against this background, it is not surprising that most countries in Africa are becoming vigilant in their effort to prevent importation or manufacturing of counterfeit medicine.
      The difficulty for law enforcement agency to combat counterfeit medicines is because the products are generally being distributed through, illegal online websites and untrustworthy pharmacies whose owners only care about profits and not the wellbeing of their patients. Anti-malaria and antibiotics are some of the most commonly reported counterfeit medicines manufactured and distributed in the World. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) 10 to 15% of the global drug supply is counterfeit and Africa accounts for up to 30% of the counterfeit medicine in circulation. A more worrying statistic is that it is estimated that 1 in 10 drugs sold worldwide is counterfeit.
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