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Counterfeit antimalarial drug discovered in Ghana
Date:7/22/2009

Rockville, Md., July 22, 2009 Quantities of a prescription medication used throughout the world for treating malaria have been identified as lacking any active ingredient and presumably counterfeit. These are being removed from the market in Ghana, where they were discovered recently and confirmed as fake last Friday. The discovery was made by a vigilant citizen who contacted the Medicines Quality Monitoring program set up by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-supported Drug Quality and Information (DQI) Program, implemented by the U.S. Pharmacopeial (USP) Convention. USP is a nonprofit scientific organization that develops globally recognized standards for the quality of medicines. Through the DQI Program, USP works in developing countries to help verify, assure and improve the quality of medicines intended to treat life-threatening neglected diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, as well as advance the appropriate use of these medicines.

The fake drug found in Ghana did not contain the active pharmaceutical ingredients of the Novartis Coartem product it was being sold as, posing a significant health threat to patients relying on the medication. This drug is an artemisinin-based combination therapy recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for treating "uncomplicated" malaria, which is endemic in 108 countries, 45 in Africa. A major barrier in combating malaria throughout much of the developing world is the widespread presence of counterfeit and adulterated drugs, which undermines the public health. Not only do these drugs fail to deliver the appropriate treatment to individual patientsputting their lives at riskbut they contribute to the growth of drug-resistant strains of malaria, one of the greatest challenges to malaria control today.

In this case, a local citizen brought a suspicious sample of "Coartem" to one of five sentinel sites set up in the country to monitor and test medicine quality. Aft
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Contact: Francine Pierson
fp@usp.org
301-816-8588
US Pharmacopeia
Source:Eurekalert

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