Fake Malaria Treatment Drugs Spread Over Africa

Research has found that counterfeit malaria drugs have entered the African supply chain to the extent that millions of people’s lives could be endangered.

The drugs, which are low-quality derivations, might enhance malarial drug resistance and, maybe, even cause harm, a study backed by the Wellcome Trust asserts.

The researchers involved in the study looked at products sold in Africa over a nine-year period, beginning in 2002, and found that of the counterfeit malaria drugs, a number had incorrect ingredients. These, they said, would make the drugs seems to work at first, but they’d not be able to supply a remedy. In fact, some of the contents could generate extreme side-effects, particularly if taken within a drug cocktail involving the likes of antiretrovirals, which are used as an HIV treatment.

Malaria, infamously spread by mosquitoes, is thought to be responsible for some 800,000 deaths every 12 months. The malaria parasite can become untreatable once drug resistance sets in – a situation encountered by several older-generation products including mefloquine hydrochloride and chloroquine.

Fake Malaria Drugs

According to the research team, the same fate potentially awaits a recent addition to the canon of drugs used to treat malaria – artemisinin. In their report, they describe how some of the fake malaria drugs have a derived artemisinin content in a bid to guarantee they still make it through quality checks.

While they’re able to pass on the security front, these drugs probably don’t enough artemisinin to counter malaria.

Now, says Doctor Paul Newton, who headed this study, governments in Africa need to really clamp down on the spread of these forgeries.

Fake African Malarial Treatments

“Failure to take action will put at risk the lives of millions of people, particularly children and pregnant women”, Newton explained, in reference to the fake African malarial treatments.

“The enormous investment in the development, evaluation and deployment of anti-malarials is wasted if the medicines that patients actually take are, due to criminality or carelessness, of poor quality and do not cure.”

He added: “Malaria can be readily treated with the right drugs of good quality, but poor quality medicines, as well as increasing mortality and morbidity, risk exacerbating the economic and social impact of malaria on societies that are already poor.”

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