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Substandard Drugs And The Fight Against TB: The Challenge And The Opportunity

April 15th, 2013

Poorly manufactured and fraudulent medicines kill thousands of people around the world each year. For infectious diseases like malaria and HIV, shoddy medicines also accelerate drug resistance and dramatically alter the course of epidemics. With few new drugs under development, recent progress against these major killers in the poorest countries is precarious.

Bad drugs have become a big problem for one major infectious disease in particular: tuberculosis. If we don’t solve this issue, we may see the gains we’ve made against TB slip away.

According to the World Health Organization, global TB cases continued on a slow downward trend in 2011. While this is good news, the disease still claimed 1.4 million lives that year—more than any other infectious disease except HIV/AIDS. Meanwhile, multidrug-resistant TB cases rose to 630,000 worldwide. Resistant TB is deadly and costs significantly more to treat. For example, curing a single case of it in the United States can cost more than $200,000. Treatment takes two years, and the side effects can be severe, including nausea, vomiting, joint pain, and even hearing loss.

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Lethal Substandard Drugs: An Increasing Danger In Emerging Markets

December 6th, 2012

From fake Avastin to contaminated generic Lipitor, every month Americans are becoming more aware about the dangers of lethal products they might be unlucky enough to take. With attentive regulators and competent companies, most incidents of dangerous drugs in US pass without significant harm, but when tainted steroid injections were recently distributed to thousands of patients, 36 died and over 500 suffered painful conditions.

The tragedy for those Americans harmed is multiplied at least a thousand fold in the carnage reeked in developing countries. Perhaps 100,000 people die every year from dangerous medicines and by most estimates the situation is deteriorating. To put it simply we are losing the global fight against bad medicines.

Efforts are being made by law enforcement officials. Eighty-two million doses of counterfeit drugs in Africa were seized by numerous national authorities, comprising about $40 million worth of antimalarials, antibiotics, cough medicines, contraceptive pills, and fertility treatments.

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