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Researchers suggest interventions to curb use of substandard medical products

Medicine

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT  | Over 160 researchers and policymakers around the world are calling for action against use of substandard medical products that include vaccines, diagnostics and medicines.

This is after the World Health Organisation (WHO) survey found one in ten medical products used in low and middle-income countries to be either falsified or substandard.

In the call to action known as the Oxford statement which is also the first-ever global call to combat poor quality medical products, the researchers say poor-quality medicines cost the global economy US $10 to 200 billion annually, a sum bigger than the entire global health spending.

It’s estimated that in Uganda, poor-quality antimalarial drugs alone cost the country US $30 million annually, an amount that could be used to settle pressing issues in healthcare like human resources or regulating drug use.

The researchers found that generally 12.4% of antibiotics and 19•1% of antimalarial in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs) were substandard or falsified whereas 16•3% of 1530 randomly sampled cardiovascular medicines (anticoagulants, antihypertensives, and statins) failed when an active pharmaceutical Ingredient content analysis was carried out.

To combat this grim picture, the researchers are recommending to countries to adopt the WHO’s Prevent, Detect and Respond strategy, better multi-sectorial collaborations, increased investment in supply chain and regulatory systems in addition to scaling up research.

However, they note that the biggest challenge is the fact that regulatory authorities of various countries are not able to adequately detect fake products.

According to WHO, fewer than 30% of the world’s medicines regulatory authorities are considered to have the capacity to perform the functions required to ensure medicines, vaccines and other health products actually work and do not harm patients.

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