Fake malaria drugs in Asia

This item appears on page 24 of the April 2008 issue.
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In a joint operation by INTERPOL, the World Health Organization and Oxford University’s Southeast Asian Tropical Medicine Research Programme, samples of the antimalarial drug artesunate were purchased throughout Southeast Asia and subjected to analysis. The findings were printed in the February 2008 Public Library of Science journal (http://journals.plos.org).

More than half of the samples collected contained either no artesunate or only a trace amount that could have no prophylactic benefit but could contribute to the development of drug-resistant strains of bacteria. Carcinogenic chemicals, antibiotics, starch and chalk also were found in the fake drugs.

The fakes were sold in sophisticated packaging that mimicked the real thing. There are at least 12 different types of the fakes being sold in Myanmar, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Laos and China, and it is believed the counterfeiters plan to target Africa next. It is recommended that travelers avoid buying antimalarial drugs during their travels.

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

In a joint operation by INTERPOL, the World Health Organization and Oxford University’s Southeast Asian Tropical Medicine Research Programme, samples of the antimalarial drug artesunate were purchased throughout Southeast Asia and subjected to analysis. The findings were printed in the February 2008 Public Library of Science journal (http://journals.plos.org).

More than half of the samples collected contained either no artesunate or only a trace amount that could have no prophylactic benefit but could contribute to the development of drug-resistant strains of bacteria. Carcinogenic chemicals, antibiotics, starch and chalk also were found in the fake drugs.

The fakes were sold in sophisticated packaging that mimicked the real thing. There are at least 12 different types of the fakes being sold in Myanmar, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Laos and China, and it is believed the counterfeiters plan to target Africa next. It is recommended that travelers avoid buying antimalarial drugs during their travels.