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Substandard and Counterfeit Antimalarial Drugs in Ghana Discovered by Cooperative Program of USP, Ghana Food and Drugs Board
Date:11/8/2010

ROCKVILLE, Md., Nov. 8, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Substandard and counterfeit versions of thirteen key antimalarial medicines were uncovered in multiple locations across Ghana by the Medicines Quality Monitoring surveillance program. Set up by the Ghana Food and Drugs Board (FDB) in collaboration with the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the program samples antimalarials across the public and private sectors. It was established in 2008 and is implemented by USP's Promoting the Quality of Medicines (PQM) initiative. USP is a scientific nonprofit organization that develops globally recognized standards for the quality of medicines. Through the PQM program, USP works in developing countries to help verify and improve the quality of medications intended to treat life-threatening neglected diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.

"Few people fully realize the devastation that distribution of substandard or counterfeit medications can wreak on vulnerable populations," said Stephen Opuni, M.D., chief executive officer of the FDB. "In this case some of the drugs discovered contained no active pharmaceutical ingredient, while others failed to meet required quality standards. This causes great harm in two ways: the individual patients taking the drugs get no relief, and drug-resistant strains of malaria may grow stronger. In addition, people lose confidence in the efficacy of medicines and may be reluctant to seek medical help when they need it. I'm very pleased with the outcomes we're seeing from the Medicines Quality Monitoring program."

In 2009 the same program uncovered a counterfeit version of Novartis' Coartem®, another widely used antimalarial. In that case, an alert citizen notified the authorities after suspecting the drug he bought might be fake. "Last year's seizure of counterfeit drugs showed the importance of public education," said Patrick Lukulay, Ph.D.,
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SOURCE U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention
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