detecting and removing poor quality medicines that harm the most vulnerable patients and damage public health


The trade in SSFFCs is growing in size and scope, according to publicly available data collected by the Pharmaceutical Security Institute Counterfeit Incident System (PSI CIS), over the period from 2005 to 2010, the theft of pharmaceuticals increased by 66% while counterfeiting incidents increased 122%. 

Further, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that in the main 10-30% but in exceptional cases up to 50% of medical products in the developing world are substandard or falsified, consequently, public health threats related to counterfeit medical products have reached alarming proportions in the developing world. 

Reports from other recognized sources e.g. the United Nations (UN) Office of Drugs and crime, World Health Organization (WHO), have detailed an increasing challenge in curbing this global public health issue. (Available here). Research conducted by Anti- Counterfeiting and Product Protection Program (A- CAPPP) of Michigan State University in March 2011 revealed counterfeit medical products undermined economic systems in a myriad of ways, but mainly through: 

  • Lost revenues to firms that might otherwise be used to develop newer and better products, 
  • Lost taxes to governments responsible for public health
  • Additional costs firms and governments incur to protect supply chains from counterfeit products, resulting as a disincentive to foreign investment, and ultimately ending in loss of jobs and economic opportunities

Also see The WWARN Antimalarial Quality Surveyor.


'Lab on a card' spots poor quality drugs that can kill

By Philippa Roxby
Health reporter, BBC News

At the Moi Teaching and Research Hospital in Eldoret, Kenya, pharmacists have a "drawer of shame".

In it, they put drugs which look suspicious, because they are either fake or of poor quality.

Rather than making people better, poor quality medicines prolong their sickness, often cause side-effects and increase the risk of drug resistance - leading to more illness and deaths, particularly among children.

Counterfeit drugs: 'People are dying every day'

By Matthew Wall
Technology of Business editor
27 September 2016

Imagine seeing your child suffering from malaria, one of the biggest killers of children across the world. Symptoms include high fever, sweating, vomiting and convulsions.

But it's OK, you think, because you bought medicine to combat the disease from a local drugs market.

Now imagine what it must be like to see your child die nonetheless because the drugs you bought were fake.

That is the brutal reality of the multi-billion dollar a year global trade in counterfeit drugs.

Counterfeit medicine threatens Africa

About 30 percent of all medicines sold in Africa are counterfeit.

Counterfeit medicines are one of the world’s largest and fastest growing industries, ranking first among the list of counterfeit products in 2011. 

Recent studies suggest that counterfeit drug sales have increased more than 90 percent between 2005 and 2010, creating revenue of more than R746 trillion.

PAD Project Updates