GENEVA, Switzerland (CMC) – The World Health Organization (WHO) says one in 10 medicines in developing countries is substandard or falsified.
“Substandard and falsified medicines particularly affect the most vulnerable communities,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, during the launch of the Global Surveillance and Monitoring System report this week in Geneva.
“These products do nothing but prolong sickness, waste money and erode hope. At worst, they kill, cause serious harm, and fan the flames of drug resistance,” he underscored.
As such, WHO has called on governments to take urgent action to tackle this global problem.
According to the reports, anti-malarials and antibiotics are the most common substandard or falsified products. Others range from cancer treatment to contraception.
While most cases received are from Africa, WHO said the data is the tip of the iceberg as many more are unreported.
“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,” said Mariângela Simão, assistant director-general for access to medicines, vaccines and pharmaceuticals at WHO.
WHO said progress has been made since 2013, with 550 regulators from 141 countries having been trained to detect and respond to this issue.
WHO said substandard and falsified medicines also cause socioeconomic problems, “due to the absence of good governance and weak technical capacity.”
“Globalisation also makes it harder to regulate medical products, and online pharmacies can easily avoid quality control,” WHO said.
Calling it an “all-too-common” reality, Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged governments to set prevention, detection and response into action.