Please: Login/Register

The Latest Edition of "Eyes on malaria" magazine will be out very soon!! | CALL FOR ARTICLES: AMMREN is inviting journalists / writers / scientists interested in reporting on malaria to send articles for publication in its international magazine “Eyes on Malaria” and for posting on its website. Please contact the AMMREN Secretariat for more details click here. Enjoy your stay!. Volunteers and interns urgently needed to work with an NGO working in the area of malaria and health. Apply through - ammren1@gmail.com / ammren1@yahoo.com. Journalists interested in reporting on and writing articles on health issues should please reply through this email: ammren1@gmail.com

ANNOUNCEMENTS:::

TIPS ON MALARIA

  • HOW CAN MOSQUITOES BE CONTROLLED?

    Mosquitoes around the home can be reduced significantly by minimizing the amount of standing water available for mosquito breeding. Residents are urged to reduce standing water around the home in a variety of ways.

  • HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF FROM MOSQUITO-BORN DISEASES?

    The best way is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.This can be accomplished using personal protecting  while outdoors when mosquitoes are present. Treated bed nets should be used sleeping. Mosquito repellent should be used when outdoor.

  • WHO ARE AT RISK?


    Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of getting malaria. Pregnant women are particularly at risk of malaria. Children under 5 years are at high risk of malaria.
     

MAGAZINE EDITIONS

  • First Edition

  • Second Edition

  • Third Edition

  • Fourth Edition

  • Fifth Edition

  • Sixth Edition

  • Seventh Edition

  • Eighth Edition

  • Ninth Edition

  • Special Edition

  • INESS Edition

  • Tenth Edition

  • INDEPTH Edition

  • Eleventh Edition

  • Twelfth Edition

  • Special Edition

  • Special Edition

  • Volume 1

Killer on the rampage

By Becce Duho-Ghana

They are everywhere. They are not efficacious and tend to be lethal. Counterfeit drugs have many known destinations but never a positively-identifiable country of origin.

The Chinese say fake drugs come from India. Indians, on the other hand, say counterfeit drugs originate from China but have been deceptively labelled “Made in India.” Nigeria which also stands accused for manufacturing fake drugs claims fake drugs are being manufactured by almost everyone these days.

The grim facts are that counterfeit drugsare being off-loaded not only in Ghana, South Africa and Ivory Coast but practically all over the place.

A new report from the International Policy Network and sponsored by IMANI Centre for Policy & Education,a non-profit think tank in Ghana, estimated that fake malaria and tuberculosis drugs alone kill 700 thousand people a year.

The report said counterfeit and substandard drugs, constitute about a third of the drug supply in certain African countries.

It said nearly half the drugs sold in Ghana, Nigeria, Angola, Burundi, and the Congo is substandard.

“As we in Africa falter to institutionalise respect for trademark laws, we cannot allow counterfeiters to win by killing mostly our illiterate folks who have little information on the efficacy of standard medicines,” Franklin Cudjoe, co-sponsor and Executive Director of IMANI,said at arecent World Health Assembly meeting in Geneva on counterfeitdrugs.

Failure to take action now will put even more lives at risk and promote drug resistance among malaria parasites.

Plasmodium falciparum malaria remains a major public health problem which the WHO reckons can be solved through the administration of good quality artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) at the correct dose.

For now the irony remains that vulnerable people in sub-Saharan Africa are compelled to fight the deadly malaria with fake drugs which cannot be called tools for fighting the disease.

A research conducted between 2002 and 2010 in 11 African countries and in Asia on drugs en route to Africa, showed seven artemisinin-derivative anti-malarials and halofantrine were of suspicious quality, with some of the fake tablets reported to have originated from China.

In Ghana, the Food and Drugs Board (FDB) working with INTERPOL found no detectable artemether or lumefantrine inwhat was said to be ‘Coartem’ containing artemether-lumefantrine. The drugs were supposedly manufactured by Beijing Novartis Pharma Limited.

Another ACT sampled in Ghana, which claimed to contain Artesunate+amodiaquine, was found to contain less than the reference range for artesunate and amodiaquine and was deemed to be counterfeit, substandard or degraded.

The research showed that some counterfeits contained a mixture of the wrong pharmaceutical ingredients which would initially alleviate the symptoms of malaria but however not cure it.

Even more alarming was the fact that some of the ingredients in the tablets could cause potentially serious side effects, especially if they were mixed with other drugs like anti-retrovirals to treat HIV.

The researchers warn that although these drugs are unlikely to rid the body of malaria parasites, they could enable them to build up resistance to artemisinin.

They called for urgent measures from African governments to tackle counterfeit anti-malarial drugs, saying, "The enormous investment in the development, evaluation and deployment of anti-malarials is wasted if the medicines that patients actually take are, due to criminality or carelessness, of poor quality and do not cure."

The research confirmed earlier findings that the malaria parasite can, after a period of time, develop resistance to the drugs being used to treat it as it happened in the past with chloroquine.

The recent death of over one hundred Pakistani patients from fake drugs is a tragedy which mirrors the wicked realities of counterfeit medicines.

Analysing the ramifications of the fake drug menace and possible solutions, Professor Alex Dodoo, the Director of the WHO Collaborative Centre for Advocacy and Training in Pharmacovigilance, University of Ghana Medical School, said the problem has many sides and requires a complex approach.

He said the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana (PSOG), Food and Drugs Board (FDB), Ghana Standards Board (GSB), Ports and Harbour, Customs and the Police must work as a team to deal with the importation and criminality involved in moving counterfeit drugs.

Civil society must also get involved because some of the drugs are produced locally and sometimes smuggled in small quantities across the sub-region by members of the community.“I believe that if you buy medicine from a pharmacy and the drug is fake, the pharmacist must face the full rigours of the law,” Prof Dodoo told Eyes on Malaria.

He said “What happened in Pakistan is a graphic demonstration of how lives can be lost when we do not run drug regulation to the highest possible level.”

“Secondly it makes people lose confidence in the public health system. They lose faith in the Ministries of Health and doctors, and say even when we go to doctors we die so we’d rather resort to other forms of treatment. Therefore they resort to herbal medicines whether they have been tested or not”

“Thirdly, you lose business as a commercial concern or even as a country because expatriates will shy away from appointments in these destinations because when you fall sick doctors give you fake drugs that kill you.”

“The fourth drawback is that agencies like the Global Fund won’t buy our medicines because we are not pre-qualified. The point is that, products are either pre-qualified or manufactured by a company that is known to be strong and assessed to be competent by an equally competent regulator. This is why drugs from the advanced countries do not need pre-qualification because they are quality controlled”

“Let us ensure that our national drug regulatory authorities are run by people with the best skills, the scientific background, strength and the depth to be able to rank them according to what we call international best practice,” he said.

Not too long ago, afacility was launched by anti-counterfeit firm Mpedigree to detect fake drugs when barcode details aresent by SMS to find out if drugs are authentic or not.

Prof Dodoo however identifies some limitations.“Currently they cover only a few products. Therefore the fake drug producers easily avoid the products covered by the Mpedigree verifier and continue to duplicate other drugs not on the list. Remember, there are thousands of other drugs out there. Not until you have all products covered by the Scratch and Check facility, counterfeiting will continue to thrive.”

Analyses of fake drugs have shown that some contain carcinogenic compounds while others have traces of ecstasy.

This explains why they are often lethal.

Editions: 
Ninth Edition