Time for global action on fake and substandard drugs

British Medical Journal
24 November 2012 (Vol 345, Issue 7884)

Time for global action on fake and substandard drugs
BMJ 2012;345:e7917 (Published 21 November 2012)

“In an article this week a self defined “diverse group of authors from the health professions, health charities, legal and medical academia, and former or current government officials in health” present us with a troubling paradox: the world currently has tighter laws to tackle fake tobacco products than it does to tackle fake drugs (doi:10.1136/bmj.e7381). At the moment, as they explain, there are laws that promote an open global medicines trade but no binding international health law on drug safety. The result is that fake and substandard drugs continue to harm and kill people around the world, affecting both proprietary and generic drugs, and haunting rich countries as well as poor. As Andrew Jack explains (doi:10.1136/bmj.e7836), the rapid growth of unregulated internet sales of drugs has raised the stakes even further. In the accompanying podcast, Amir Attiran emphasises the absurd situation by which trading fake medicines is currently legal under international law, and Sania Nishtar highlights worryingly weak pharmacovigilance systems in Pakistan (www.bmj.com/multimedia).

Why the lack of progress on this globally damaging health problem? There’s no simple answer to what is clearly a complex problem, but the authors suggest that the main barriers have been the lack of an internationally agreed terminology and a focus in law on commercial interests rather than public health…”

Faking it
BMJ 2012;345:e7836 (Published 20 November 2012)

How to achieve international action on falsified and substandard medicines
BMJ 2012;345:e7381 (Published 13 November 2012)
Press release

Commentary: Substandard medicines are the priority for neglected tropical diseases
BMJ 2012;345:e7518 (Published 14 November 2012)