Counterfeit medicines are so ubiquitous that they’re killing tens of thousands of children worldwide who are afflicted with severe but curable diseases, a new report states.
“We’re talking about 300,000 – at least – children who have died because of murder-by-alleged-medicines distributed by criminals,” said Dr. Joel Breman, a co-author of the report and senior scientific adviser emeritus at the Fogarty International Center of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, to CNN.
While such medicines have been increasing for years – highlighted by the World Health Organization as far back as 2010 – the number of medicines as well as the countries they’re found in have more than doubled in the past 10 years, according to a study published Monday in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.
With just one manufacturer, the number has gone from 29 falsified Pfizer products in 75 countries in 2008, to 95 counterfeit ones in 113 countries in 2018, CNN reported, as isolated by Pfizer’s global security team.
While fake anti-malaria drugs are among the worst offenders, counterfeit drugs are spreading to other areas and diseases, such as high blood pressure and other chronic conditions.
Besides killing young children in mainly poor countries, fake drugs “exact an annual economic toll of up to US$200 billion and contribute to the increasing peril of antimicrobial resistance,” the study’s abstract states.