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News of the Day ... in Perspective


Counterfeit drugs, peddled by organized crime, cost lives in Third World

Because of stringent policing and harsh penalties, former narcotics smugglers are switching to a business where enforcement is lax: the sale of fake drugs that contain little or none of the labelled ingredient.

Primarily manufactured in China, the fake drugs are flooding Africa and Asia, causing many deaths. Officials fighting this crime, such as Dora Akunyili of Nigeria, face the risk of assassination.

Bogus products include insulin, antimalarials, antibiotics, and painkillers.

A “minilab” developed by the German Pharma Health Fund allows local technicians to test for fakes.

Targeting the factories that produce the fakes will require pressure on Chinese authorities by pharmaceutical companies and governments. Some progress is being made, said Joe Damond, deputy vice president for international affairs of PhRMA, the trade association of U.S. pharmaceutical companies (Nature, Mar 10, 2005 ).

Additional information:

Drug reimportation bill passes Congress despite heated opposition. AAPS Alert: www.aapsonline.org/alerts/reimportation.htm.

HMOs helped to create a lucrative market for fake Eldepryl. AAPS News, Sept. 1996.

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