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GH 030111 Malaria Drug Survey

SciDev.Net examines a recent WHO review (.pdf) of malaria drug surveys in African countries. It found that almost one-third of “medicines availables in Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania are substandard and possibly counterfeit” (Sharma, 2/25). The report “synthesizes the findings of rapid assessments performed at national medicines regulatory authorities (NMRAs) in 26 African countries over the last eight years,” a WHO web page states (December 2010). 

The report found that one in 10 drugs surveyed had “‘extreme’ deviations in active ingredients or other standards,” SciDev.Net notes. “The highest incidence of failure was in Nigeria, with two-thirds of all samples failing WHO quality tests.” In Ghana 39 percent of samples were found to be substandard and 37 percent of those in Cameroon failed the test. “Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania fared better, with failure rates of below 11 percent. … In Ethiopia no samples failed, in part because of a tight regulatory regime.” SciDev.Net reports that the number of substandard drugs in Kenya improved significantly. In 2003, 54 percent of drugs tested were found to be substandard. The current survey found that five percent tested failed quality standards.

“It seems that regulators are focusing mainly on the quality of imports,” said Jitko Sabatova, the WHO’s technical officer responsible for pre-qualification of quality control labs. According to SciDev.Net, “[c]ountries with domestic production of antimalarials fared slightly worse [in the survey.”

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