Tuesday, January 17, 2012

the real drug problem

Malaria kills nearly a million people each year, mainly young children and pregnant women. Hopes of controlling malaria in Africa could be wrecked by criminals who are circulating counterfeit and substandard drugs, threatening millions of lives, scientists are warning. Large parts of Africa are threatened by the distribution of fake and poor quality anti-malarials made illicitly in China.

Some of the fake drugs contain artemisinin, but not enough to kill all the parasites in a child's body. Not only will the child struggle to recover, but the parasites that survive may become resistant to the drug and spread a form of the disease that ACTs (artemisinin combination therapy) will no longer cure. Analysis also showed some counterfeits contained a mixture of wrong active pharmaceutical ingredients, some of which may initially alleviate malaria symptoms but would not cure malaria. Worse still, these unexpected ingredients could cause potentially serious side effects, particularly if they were to interact with other medication that the patient was taking, such as anti-retroviral therapies for HIV.

It will be very hard for the affected African countries to tackle the problem, however. WHO has said that 30% of drug regulatory authorities don't function. They don't list which they are but logically they are likely to be in economically poor, malarious countries.


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