The Washington Post examines the emergence of drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis (TB) around the world, writing, "One culprit in the rise of untreatable TB is counterfeit drugs, which can undermine treatment efforts by packing insufficient active ingredients to fully kill off bacteria, breeding new, stronger super-strains of the disease." According to the newspaper, "[a] new study [.pdf] published in the International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease found that 16.6 percent of tuberculosis drugs in Africa, 10.1 percent in India and 3.9 percent in other middle-income countries were 'failures,' meaning they had less than 80 percent of the active ingredient necessary to treat the disease."
"The authors suspect that the number of fake drugs in Africa is so high because few of the drugs there are 'registered,' meaning authorized to be sold by a relevant drug agency," the Washington Post notes, adding, "When patients take these fake drugs, they remain sick longer or die. In some patients, germs multiply and morph into new strains, making them harder and more expensive to treat." The newspaper writes, "But simply stopping the flood of fake drugs into each country won't entirely fix the problem, the authors say, because there's a difference between drugs that are designed to deceive patients and those that are simply poorly made or stored." Roger Bate of the American Enterprise Institute and one of the study authors "recommends trying a tactic similar to the international community's response to fake malaria drugs -- setting up strong donor and in-country facilities to test the medicines before they're sold," the newspaper writes (Khazan, 2/5).
This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.