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The drug quality lapses in India—which supplies more drugs to the United States than any other country—have become so unnerving that U.S. physicians are for the first time publicly voicing concern.
Tanzanian authorities and INTERPOL have just made a major seizure of fake and substandard drugs. While good news, it's a stark reminder that Africa remains ground zero in the global war on bad medicine.
Evidence is mounting that some pharmaceutical manufacturers in countries like India cut corners and send low-quality products to major, developed markets. Worse still, they may have separate production lines for drugs they sell in developing markets like Africa, where poor quality is more likely to go unnoticed.
Substandard and falsified medicines are major global health challenges that cause unnecessary morbidity and mortality around the world and threaten to undermine recent progress against infectious diseases by facilitating the emergence of drug resistance.
In the past decade major problems with Chinese-made food and drugs has led to thousands of deaths, mostly in China itself, but many in rich countries too, including at least 150 deaths in the U.S. from counterfeits of the drug heparin. And while fake drugs are the largest concern for foreigners, within China the greatest fear is over milk formula.
The Indian Supreme Court’s decision on Gleevec will surely help some patients seeking affordable treatment (“US should tighten rules for patenting changes to drugs,” Editorial, April 8), but there is no guarantee that local companies can reproduce a drug that is as safe or effective as the original, especially when they have no data-sharing agreement with the company that designed it.
Join us for a lively debate about who is hurting the conservative cause and who is helping it.