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Warning over fake malaria drugs

18th January 2012

British researchers have issued a warning over fake and poor quality anti-malarial drugs.

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They are concerned that the counterfeits are threatening efforts to control the disease in Africa and could put millions of lives at risk.

In addition, there are fears that the fake or poor quality medicines – some of which originated in China - may not only harm patients but could also promote drug resistance among malaria parasites.

The study is from the Wellcome Trust-Mahosot Hospital-Oxford University Tropical Medicine Research Collaboration and is published in the Malaria Journal.

It focused on fake and substandard anti-malarial drugs that were found on sale in 11 African countries between 2002 and 2010.

Lead researcher Dr Paul Newton has appealed to governments across Africa to take action against counterfeit malaria drugs.

He said: “Failure to take action will put at risk the lives of millions of people, particularly children and pregnant women.

“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 study found that some of the drugs had the wrong pharmaceutical ingredients and could cause potentially serious side effects, especially if they were mixed with other drugs a patient might be taking.

The malaria parasite has been known to develop resistance to the drugs being used to treat it as happened with chloroquine and mefloquine.

Researchers fear that could happen with artemisinin, which is one of the most effective drugs now being used to treat malaria.

 

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