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Third drugs against malaria in Southeast Asia False

Monday, May 21, 2012

Paris. More than a third of drugs against malaria examined by scientists in Southeast Asia were fakes, and a similar proportion in Africa analyzed were below the norm, doctors warned Tuesday.

"These results are a wake-up requiring a series of interventions to better identify and eliminate the production of both criminal and manufacture of antimalarial drugs the poor," said Joel Breman of the Fogarty International Center at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Trawling through surveys and published literature, the researchers found that in seven South Asian countries, 36 percent of 1,437 samples, from five classes of drugs were counterfeit.

Thirty percent of samples failed a test of their pharmaceutical ingredients.

In 21 sub-Saharan Africa, 20 percent more than 2500 samples tested in six classes of drugs has proven to be falsified, and 35 percent were substandard pharmaceuticals.

Sub-standard drugs are a major problem in the fight against malaria, a disease that has killed 655,000 people in 2010, according to the Organization of the UN World Health Organization (WHO).

Many drugs that are fake or poorly made are artemisinin derivatives, the study found.

This is a particular concern, for artemisinins are the first line treatment against malaria, replacing drugs to which the malaria parasite has become resistant.

The study indicates that there are many causes of the problem, ranging from broad self-prescription of drugs to poor quality controls to monitor the quality of medicines and counterfeiters continue.

"Poor quality of antimalarial drugs are very likely to undermine unprecedented progress and investment in controlling and eliminating malaria has in the past decade", said Breman.

Last month, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle reported that artemisinin against resistant malaria, which was first spotted in Cambodia in 2006 has jumped from 800 kilometers west of the border between Thailand and Burma.

Agence France-Presse
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