Since the outbreak of malaria became a big hit to the public, a lot of cures and medicines are produced and underwent intensive research to fight off this deadly mosquito bite. However though, also in the rise are counterfeit anti-malarial drugs distributed worldwide. Huge quantities of distribution go to underdeveloped and remote areas which have not enough access to authentic ones. Now they are out in the open as the government, different health organizations such as the World Health Organizations (WHO), United Nations (UN) and private institutes like ThePeterson Group take actions in defeating these fraudulent acts.
Where can they be found?
They can be found anywhere, but they are especially prevalent in developing countries lacking effective drug regulatory agencies as well as resources required to effectively evaluate drug quality or enforce drug quality regulations. Records show that there is a supply in cities like Brunei, Jakarta, Indonesia and Bangkok, Thailand in the recent years.
What types of antimalarial drug quality issues can be found?
Drugs with too little, too much, or absolutely no active ingredient, due to intentional fraud or poor manufacturing and quality control practice.
• A tablet’s inability to release drug, due to poor formulation techniques.
• Chemical breakdown of drugs caused by storage conditions, especially in warm, humid climates.
• Contamination with other substances due to poor manufacturing procedures.
• Incomplete, inaccurate or misleading packaging and labeling.
How can I avoid buying counterfeit or substandard anti-malarial drugs to prevent malaria when I travel to an area with malaria transmission?
• Buy the anti-malarial drugs you need in your home country and keep the original packaging to review and compare.
• Write down the drug's generic and brand names as well as the name of the manufacturer so in case you run out, you can look for the correct product.
• If you need to purchase medicine in the country you are visiting, inspect and compare the packaging of the medicine available for sale in that country with the original. Many times poor quality printing or paper indicates a counterfeited product.
• Be suspicious of tablets that have a peculiar odor, taste, or color, or ones that are extremely brittle. Ill-defined imprints on the tablet may indicate a counterfeit.
• The quality of commercially available drugs varies greatly in malaria-endemic countries:
• The amount of the active ingredient can vary due to lack of regulations and poor quality control practices.
• Some pills may release very little if any drug due to poor formulation techniques.
• Chemical break-down of some drugs can occur due to poor storage conditions, especially in warm and humid tropical climates.
• Some drugs may be contaminated with other substances.
• Counterfeiters may also obtain expired drugs and repackage them with false or missing expiration dates.