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Counterfeit Medicines Pose Increasing Risk To Patients Worldwide, U.N. Agency Says

Counterfeit medications are posing an increasing threat to patients’ health worldwide, because they offer high returns and low risks for criminal organizations, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said in a statement on Friday, Agence France-Presse reports.  According to the AFP, WHO estimates that “three in 10 pharmaceutical products in the combined African, Asian and Latin American markets are fake. And 50 to 60 percent of anti-infective medications in parts of Asia and Africa have been shown to have active ingredients outside of acceptable limits” (5/13).

“Beyond the direct impact on the victims, substandard medicines can, amongst others, also fuel microbial resistance,” the statement said, adding, “Health experts have warned that each under-medicated patient becomes an evolutionary vector though which ‘superbugs’ can develop, posing a global threat to public health.” With the problem not limited to developing countries, delegates at last month’s Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in Vienna urged UNODC to collaborate with other U.N. agencies and international organizations “to assist countries in responding to this growing threat,” the statement notes (5/12).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.