News / Health

Global Trade in Fake Drugs Tops $30 Billion

Global Trade in Fake Drugs Tops $30 Billion

x
Global Trade in Fake Drugs Tops $30 Billioni
|| 0:00:00
X
October 04, 2012 10:56 PM
The World Health Organization estimates that 25 percent of medicines sold in poor countries are counterfeit. Monitoring by the World Bank and others suggests the overall global trade in fake and substandard drugs is now more than 30 billion dollars per year. Experts are asking for stricter regulation and better international collaboration to check this public health menace. VOA’s Vidushi Sinha has more

Global Trade in Fake Drugs Tops $30 Billion

Vidushi Sinha
The World Health Organization estimates that 25 percent of medicines sold in poor countries are counterfeit.  Monitoring by the World Bank and others suggests  the overall global trade in fake and substandard drugs is now more than $30 billion per year. Experts are asking for stricter regulation and better international collaboration to check this public health menace.

Some 40 percent of the drugs available in many sub-Saharan African and South American countries are either fake or substandard - according to research by the World Bank and international public health groups.  And experts say the widespread circulation of poor-quality or substandard medicines leads to frequent treatment failure and even loss of life.  

Experts working to stop this counterfeit drug traffic met in Washington recently to discuss legal and enforcement solutions.  Louise Shelley is a criminologist and director of the Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center at George Mason University in Virginia.

“We are focusing much more on narcotics trafficking rather than on counterfeits that can do harm to many more individuals than consuming of illicit drugs," said Shelley.

Shelley says sophisticated transnational criminal organizations are behind the manufacture and distribution of drugs that do not conform to proper standards.  She says only a coordinated international effort can deal with organized crime on this scale.

“I think WHO, law enforcement community, consumer organizations, civil society everybody has a role in it," she said.

“You have no guarantee of the safety, efficacy or quality of those products," said Margaret Hamburg.

Dr. Margaret Hamburg heads the Food and Drug Administration, the federal agency which oversees the safety of drugs and food products in the United States.  The FDA took strong action this week against thousands of internet pharmacies selling illegal medical products.

Dr. Patrick Lukulay of The United States Pharmacopeia, an organization that sets standards for medicines, says drug purity needs to be ensured through an international initiative, because the ingredients come from many parts of the world.

“In the US - 80 percent of active ingredients come from either India or China into the US so US companies are vulnerable," said Lukulay.

“In India you have 10,000 manufacturing companies and so although the regulators are making investments it’s difficult to catch up," said Andreas Seiter.

Andreas Seiter is a global pharmaceutical expert.  He says many countries need to increase their regulatory capabilities.

And Michael Bates of  the World Health Organization says it is not only patients who are ignorant about fake medicines. He says many health professionals are also unaware.

“This is a complex international trade.  And we need greater information on the scale and the scope, the harm and economic damage done by this issue to convince the policy makers to commit resources to tackle this," said Bates.

Experts say a worldwide, coordinated effort is needed to deal with the problem - including better monitoring and regulation, upgrades in law enforcement capabilities, and the sharing of testing technology.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid