Counterfeit anti-malarial drugs risking millions of lives in Africa

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London, May 10 : More than one third of antimalarial drugs sold in Africa have been deemed ineffective by scientists, who claim that all these drugs did not fare too well in quality tests.

The scientists conducted a study of drugs bought in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, and the results showed that hundreds of thousands of lives are being put at risk because of drug counterfeiting.

They found that 35 per cent of drugs that were tested contained too little active ingredient or failed to dissolve, making them ineffective.

In fact, there were another one third of drugs that the World Health Organisation (WHO) wants to ban, as they may cause the malaria parasite to develop resistance.

However, researchers believe that this is spreading to Africa from South-East Asia, where almost half of anti-malarial drugs are fake.

Up to 2.7million people are killed each year due to Malaria, chiefly in Africa, and at least 200,000 deaths are caused due to counterfeit and sub-standard drugs.

One third of the drugs bought during the study were artemisinin monotherapies, which belonged to the group of drugs that the WHO wants banned in favour of combination treatments.

The scientists are scared that the parasite Plasmodium falciparum may develop immunity towards artemisinin in isolation, as it has to older drugs such as chloroquine.

ANI

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