Lifestyle & Belief

Third of malaria drugs are fake


A Congolese woman and her malarial child speak with a doctor at the Makpandu refugee camp outside Yambio, south Sudan, on Jan. 14, 2011.


Spencer Platt

Nearly a third of all malaria drugs around the world are fake according to new research. 

The BBC reported US researchers from the Fogarty International Center at the National Institutes of Health Researchers looked at 1,500 samples of seven malaria drugs from seven countries in South East Asia. They found many to be poor-quality or outright counterfeit. The group said fake tablets are causing drug resistance and treatment failure.

CBCNews reported that nearly 1 million people, mostly children in Africa, die each year of malaria. 

More from GlobalPost: Global malaria deaths twice as high as estimated, Lancet study says

The research group also collected 2,500 samples from 21 countries in sub-Saharan Africa that all showed similar results.

In the group's abstract they wrote, "Poor-quality antimalarial drugs lead to drug resistance and inadequate treatment, which pose an urgent threat to vulnerable populations and jeopardize progress and investments in combating malaria."

The group added, "The economic incentives for criminals of drug falsification surpass the risks involved in their production and sale. Production and distribution of counterfeit antimalarial drugs should be prosecuted as crimes against humanity."

According to CBCNews, as there is no good replacement, if artemisinin-based drugs stop working, many would ultimately die without the proper medication. Right now malaria kills an estimated 2,000 children every day in Africa. Some 3.3 billion people worldwide are at risk of getting infected.

Gaurvika Nayyar, the lead author of the study told CBCNews, "We feel a sense of emergency considering the impact these medicines can have."

More from GlobalPost: Drug-resistant malaria found in Africa