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World Malaria Day: Sign the petition against counterfeit malaria drugs

April 24, 2013 - 21:43 -- Bart G.J. Knols

As a malaria professional, you are probably aware of the unfolding tragedy with counterfeit drugs. Either completely fake (drugs containing nothing more than chalk, washing powder, or even brake fluid) or substandard (not containing enough active ingredient) or outdated drugs are flooding the African market on an ever-increasing scale.

Experts like Professors Paul Newton and Nick White have been ringing the alarm bells for years, but in spite of their efforts the problem is getting worse by the day. Read 'Phake', the excellent book on the subject by Roger Bate, and you will appreciate how serious the situation has become...

The general public is, by and large, completely unaware of this situation. Whoever I talk to, people are completely surprised and respond with utter disbelief that this is happening. That criminals in Asia are producing counterfeit anti-malarials and make huge profits on these whilst doing nothing less than murdering innocent African children that receive this bogus medication.

During a board meeting of the Dutch Malaria Foundation we concluded that this has to stop. We cannot let this happen in a world in which we are all working so hard to make malaria a thing of the past.

And so we decided to generate support from the general public. People around the world need to know about this tragedy and take action. Action to call upon the governments of India and China where most of these counterfeit drugs are produced. Action so that they will step up efforts to stop these criminals from producing fake drugs, action so that they will step up efforts to ensure that only high-quality drugs leave their countries for export to Africa and beyond. We therefore made the following movie:

If we don't take action now, we will definitely run into problems with drug resistance because some producers put just enough active ingredients in their drugs to pass tests but insufficient active ingredient to clear an infection in a sick person. The perfect recipe for drug resistance development. See the animation below for a full story on fake drugs:

So...let's hear your voice. Speak up against this crime. And sign the petition online at www.fakedrugskill.org

We are a large global community of malaria professionals. Together we can change the world, so please...

Thank you. Thank you on behalf of the millions of African children that each time they have malaria become part of a Russian roulette. As much as 30% of all malaria drugs traded in Africa are fake. In some places as much as 80% of the drugs sold on the streets are completely fake.

Your friends, family, colleagues, and all your contacts through social media: Please direct them to www.fakedrugskill.org

Thank you.

Willem van Prooijen, Chairman

On behalf of the entire Board of the Dutch Malaria Foundation

Comments

Submitted by lutgenp@gms.lu (not verified) on

We agree.
But consider very dangerous too the fact that nobody knows if ACT pills stored for one year under tropical climate are still effective. We have posted a question on Malariaworld, asked all our partners, asked experts from WHO. Nobody knows a clinical trial which was run to confirm that ACT pills stored and sold in village drug stores are still working.
There are however several scientific papers which have document that stored under tropical climate the artemisinin derivative contained in ACTs has deteriorated and event vanished.

Submitted by Virender (not verified) on

The only viable method to eliminate or even reduce fake drugs is to introduce on a large scale an effective and inexpensive anti malarial. Working since 2004, I have produced a herbal medication which in-vitro showed to be 40 to 60 times more potent than chloroquine. This non-toxic medication, suitable for children and pregnant women, without side effects can be produced in Africa and distributed any where in Africa for ONE US$ without the benefit of subsidies from WHO/Global fund. Any one who wants to do some real work in this area - please contact me at vbhogal@gmail.com

Peter James's picture
Submitted by Peter James on

I worked in drug regulatory authority in Sierra Leone and the issue of fake drugs including antimalarials is a public health menace in this part of the globe. With porous borders,little or no proper regulation of drugs in neighboring counties backed by lack of political will to combat drug peddling with the streets of my capital leave much to be desired. With the little support from stakeholders the amount of fake medicines in the regulated market has reduced but the unregulated market still remains a constant source of fake medicines. The use Truscan machine as a screening tool to identify fake or substandard drugs has made the work to fight against fake drugs look promising but more needs to be done on part of governments, drug multilaterals and international law enforcement organisation. Also, the public needs to be aware the downside of taking fake medicines.

P James