The World Health Organization (WHO) warns that many counterfeit drugs related to corona virus appear in developing countries.
According to the BBC, many fake drugs are being sold in Africa, amid growing demand for drugs due to the Covid-19 epidemic.
WHO said the use and consumption of these fake drugs would lead to “serious side effects”.
An expert warns that a pandemic may occur in parallel with Covid-19 when people use substandard or counterfeit drug products.
Supply decreased, demand increased
Throughout the world, people and governments are tending to stockpile basic medicines. However, the two countries that produce the world’s largest medicines and medical devices, China and India, are being cordoned off, the demand is too great compared to the supply, so fake and poor quality medicines are on the rise. more and more appear.
Pangea, Interpol’s global health crime division, made 121 arrests in 90 countries in just one week, coinciding with the WHO declaring Covid-19 a global pandemic. The amount of counterfeit drugs seized in this campaign is worth $ 14 million.
From Malaysia to Mozambique, police confiscated tens of thousands of fake medical masks and pharmaceuticals – even many drugs were advertised as being able to treat Covid-19.
“The illegal trade in such fake health products during a public health crisis shows complete disregard for human life,” said Jurrgen Stock, Secretary General of Interpol.
According to WHO, the illegal trading of counterfeit drugs, including poisoned drugs, containing the wrong or inactive, or expired products, is worth up to 30 billion USD and takes place. in low- and middle-income countries.
“The best scenario is that these counterfeit drugs cannot treat the disease as expected. But the worst scenario is that they will harm health, because of being contaminated with toxins,” said Pernette Bourdillion Esteve, who stood the head of the WHO task force in dealing with counterfeit drugs, said.
The global pharmaceutical industry is valued at more than a trillion dollars with a vast supply chain stretching from factories in China and India to packaging facilities in Europe, South America or Asia, and finally the distributors take them to every country in the world.
Some pharmaceutical factories in India say they are operating at 50-60% of their normal capacity. Because India is the source of 20% of all medicines sold in Africa, the continent is in a serious shortage of medicine.
Ephraim Phiri, who sells medicine in Zambia’s capital Lusaka, said he was starting to feel the shortage.
“Drugs are starting to run out and we cannot fill them. There is nothing we can do. It is very difficult to contact suppliers, especially basic drugs like antibiotics and anti- malaria, “shared Phiri.
Manufacturers and suppliers also have their own difficulties when raw materials for drug production are becoming expensive, making many factories unable to continue operating.
A plant in Pakistan said it could ever buy ingredients to produce anti-malarial drugs hydrochloroquine for $ 100 per kilogram, but now the price has risen to $ 1,150.
Need international cooperation
As more and more countries impose blockade orders, their supply capacity is not affected but the demand also increases rapidly, because people are restricted to go out, they want to stock up on basic medicines.
“When supply cannot meet demand, it will create an environment where poor quality drugs or counterfeit drugs fill the gap,” said Esteve from WHO.
Since US President Donald Trump began referring to chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as Covid-19-capable drugs, the demand for these products – which are formulated to treat malaria – has skyrocketed. .
The WHO has repeatedly asserted that there is no conclusive evidence that these two substances can be used to effectively treat Covid-19, but that does not reduce their need.
The BBC detected large quantities of fake chloroquine being circulated in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon. The WHO also said it found fake chloroquine in Niger.
1,000 anti-malarial chloroquine tablets used to cost $ 40, but drug stores in the Congo now sell them for $ 250.
The counterfeit brand name drug is manufactured in Belgium by Brown and Burk Pharmaceutical. However, the UK-based company told the BBC that it did not produce choloroquine and that it was definitely a fake drug.
As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to spread in many countries, Professor Paul Newton, an expert on counterfeit medicine at the University of Oxford, warns that the circulation of counterfeit and dangerous drugs will only increase unless major world government to fight against this situation.
“We are at risk of a parallel pandemic, caused by subprime and counterfeit products, unless we ensure that there is global coordination in production, distribution and quality control. test kits, medicines and vaccines. Otherwise, the benefits of modern medicine would be gone, “said Newton.