One of the only comforting parts of falling ill is knowing that some medication will probably be able to help you. But not everyone has this luxury. Universal Health Care is still but a dream, and it recently came to the public’s attention that some drugs in circulation may actually be making us sicker.
Some recent studies have shown that about 42% of the world’s ineffective, and sometimes harmful, drugs are circulating in Africa being marketed and sold as real medication.
These drugs appear to be largely imported into the African countries from China. “If reports from African regulators are accurate, Chinese companies are responsible for the most egregious medicines frauds and misformulations seen on the continent,” said Laurie Garett, senior fellow for global health at the US Council on Foreign Relations.
This study done by the World Health Organization shows that 1 in 10 medical products circulating in developing countries is falsified or substandard. Substandard and falsified drugs are not the same thing, though. Substandard drugs are licensed and approved but poor quality. Drugs that fall under this category contain an incorrect amount of an active ingredient or are expired. Falsified drugs are consciously made to deceive people when buying them. Regardless, both types of drugs can cause harm or death.
On top of the problems that come with selling ineffective medication, people living in Africa face sicknesses that are seriously life-threatening. Two countries with the highest rate of malaria (20 million of the 94 million cases were found here) are Tanzania and Uganda. These fake drugs are commonly found in these two African countries.
But this is not just a problem for Africa. Globally, these drugs can and will rase the rates of antimicrobial resistance. Drug-resistant bacteria can spread anywhere in the world. Bacteria does not see country borders. Bacteria cannot be outsourced. And it will spread.
Hopefully, these reports will begin to stop the circulation of these drugs. In the meantime, precautions are being taken. A tech firm, Sproxil, provide scratch off codes on their medication packaging. You can text the code to Sproxil, and they will confirm whether the drugs are legitimate or not. These precautions are helpful, but if we want to end the circulation altogether, bigger action will be necessary.
If you’re interested in finding about the future of medicine, check out this article!