One in 10 medicines fake; diseases becoming untreatable: WHO

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New Delhi, Nov 29: An estimated one in 10 medical products circulating in low and middle-income countries is either substandard or falsified, according to a new research from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

This means that people are taking medicines that fail to treat or prevent diseases. This not only leads to waste of money, but substandard or falsified medical products can cause serious illness or even death, a release by the WHO.

"Imagine a mother who gives up food or other basic needs to pay for her child's treatment, unaware that the medicines are substandard or falsified. Then, that treatment leads to her child's death," WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

"This is unacceptable. Countries have agreed on measures at the global level. It is time to translate those into tangible actions," Dr Ghebreyesus said.

Since 2013, the WHO has received 1,500 reports of cases of substandard or falsified products. Of these, antimalarials and antibiotics are the most commonly reported.

Most of the reports, around 42 per cent, come from sub- Saharan Africa, 21 per cent from the Americas and 21 per cent from the European region, the WHO release said.

This is likely just a small fraction of the total problem and many cases may be going unreported, it said.

"Substandard or falsified medicines not only have a tragic impact on individual patients and their families, but also are a threat to antimicrobial resistance, adding to the worrying trend of medicines losing their power to treat," Dr Mari ngela Sim o, Assistant Director-General for Access to Medicines, Vaccines and Pharmaceuticals at the WHO said.

This study was based on more than 100 research papers on medicine quality surveys done in 88 low and middle-income countries involving 48,000 samples of medicines, the release said.

Lack of accurate data means that these estimates are just an indication of the scale of the problem, the WHO release said, adding more research is needed to more accurately estimate the threat posed by substandard and falsified medical products.


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