A rigorous analysis of the quality of antimalarial drugs that was conducted in Cambodia and Tanzania found no evidence of fake medicines. Previous reports had suggested that up to one third of antimalarials could be fake.
Researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine analyzed 2,028 antimalarials from Tanzania and Cambodia. Samples were selected in a rigorous and representative way, making this one of the most recent comprehensive data sets on antimalarial quality.
Drugs were analyzed in three independent laboratories in the UK and USA and classified as acceptable quality, falsified (fake drugs which do not contain the stated active pharmaceutical ingredient or API) or substandard (genuine medicines produced by authorized manufacturers which do not have the correct amount of API).
No falsified drugs were found in either country. However, substandard drugs were found in 31% of samples in Cambodia and in 12% of samples in Tanzania.
Researchers warn that routine surveillance is crucial as poor quality medicines exist, leaving malaria patients at risk of dying and increasing the risk of drug resistance.