Counterfeit and substandard drugs have been a major problem in developing countries especially in Africa, the World Health Organization (WHO) began collecting information on counterfeit drugs in the 1980s and over the past 30 years, as counterfeit technology has advanced, so have the number of counterfeit and substandard drugs on the world market. Counterfeit medicines are defined by the WHO as those that are "deliberately or fraudulently mislabeled as to their source." The products can include incorrect ingredients, may misstate the amount of the active ingredients, or are manufactured under circumstances that lack quality control. Current estimates suggest that 10 percent of prescription drugs worldwide are counterfeit, contaminated, or fake. The problem is even more dire in Africa, where some countries report that 30 to 50 percent of all prescription and over-the-counter medicines sold to consumers are counterfeits. While the issue of counterfeit drugs has long been treated as a criminal matter of intellectual property infringement, this view has often obscured what is in fact a public health crisis. Counterfeit and substandard pharmaceuticals are not just duping consumers and eroding profits of genuine drugs, they are taking lives. The WHO estimates that one fifth of global malaria deaths each year are a result of the use of fake drugs.
We will explore ways to address this issue and how various strategies such as anti counterfeiting technology is used in the fight against counterfeit and substandard drugs. We will also look at various regulatory enforcement measures taking by government agencies, public sector organizations and private enterprises to increase the quality of life saving medicines coming into Africa and other underserved/resource poor communities around the world.
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