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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UNC: Review Indicates Falsified and Substandard Medicines are Threat to Public Health

The production and sale of falsified and substandard medicines is a public health pandemic that requires greater national and international oversight, according to a recent review article from a team of public health researchers and industry leaders.

Dr. Jim Herrington, epidemiologist and professor in the Department of Health Behavior at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health, is co-author of the paper “Falsified and Substandard Drugs: Stopping the Pandemic,” published May 1 in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

Previous research led by Dr. Sachiko Ozawa of the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, with whom Dr. Herrington collaborates, estimates that falsified and substandard medicines in low- and middle-income countries come at an economic cost of $10 to $200 billion annually. These poor-quality medications pose a danger to public health as they contribute to antimicrobial and antimalarial resistance, and Dr. Herrington says the pandemic is a silent killer.

“Our aim with this article is to inform our professional colleagues, national legislators and parliamentarians, and the public consumer, about falsified and substandard drugs. In particular, we want to highlight the risk of antimicrobial resistance, a problem that we’ve witnessed with antimalarial drugs,” he says. “Antimicrobial resistance already has an incredibly negative effect on diseases like tuberculosis and streptococcus pneumoniae. We want people to know this issue is not only limited to low- and middle-income countries ­– this is a concern for economically developed nations, too.”

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