You’ve heard the stories of drug dealers trying to get over on others by “watering down” their drug supplies in order to increase profits; some have even substituted bogus ingredients or whole product that looks and feels the same but has none of the desired effects of the “real McCoy.”
Many could care less what goes on within the crooked illegal drug trade, but when it comes to replacing real drugs that cure real diseases with fake ones that do absolutely nothing for the afflicted – that is more than just “crossing the line.”
One of the latest in a flurry of counterfeit drugs to hit the streets is a drug used to treat malaria which has been effectively decreased in Africa through Western aid programs and the potent anti-malarial drug – Coartem.
According to the May 29, Wall Street Journal, customs officials in Angola made “one of the largest seizures of phony medicines ever” when they discovered 1.4 million packets of counterfeit Coartem last June; the fake meds were stashed inside a shipment of loudspeakers – cargo from China.
Coartem, a malaria drug made by Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis, comes in packets of 24 pills which are to be taken over a three day period,
The Angolan government reported 33.2 million dosage units of the phony Coartem were netted from that single smuggling shipment.
The insurgence of counterfeit anti-malarial drugs into Africa “threatens to undermine years of progress in tackling the disease,” the WSJ reports.
Coartem is as much a part of daily life in Angola as eating is with one in 10 Angolans contracting Malaria.
Pregnant women and children under 5 years of age are at greater risk of becoming a fatality if they contract the vector borne disease.
The counterfeit Coartem has shown up in three African countries and appears to be “manufactured specifically for the African market.”
Even though it remains a mystery where the drugs were manufactured, the packets marked with the Nigeria National Food and Drug Administration’s official stamp of approval.
The health ministry is now setting up laboratories to spot-check medicines in the marketplace in an effort to weed out the counterfeits.
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