FDA searches for counterfeit malaria drugs

Posted May 1, 2013 by Tim Sandle
The US Food and Drug Administration has launched a new program aimed at detecting counterfeit and ineffective malaria drug treatments around the world.
Ibadan  Nigeria: A trader displays cartons of different brands of household insecticides and malaria...
Ibadan, Nigeria: A trader displays cartons of different brands of household insecticides and malaria drugs
It has been estimated, according to Lab Manager, that in sub-Saharan parts of Africa, counterfeit malaria drugs represent one-fifth of the available malaria treatment supplies, while a further two-fifths are substandard.
Malaria, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, is caused by a single-celled parasite belonging to genus Plasmodium, is transmitted, by mosquitoes, in areas in over one hundred countries risking about 3.3 billion people. Mosquitoes spread the parasite to humans through their bites; the parasite then travels to the liver, where it matures and reproduces in forms that infect the red cells and cause clinical symptoms.
Although the project to address fake pharmaceuticals is being led by the FDA, other bodies involved with the initiative are the President's Malaria Initiative, the US CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the US National Institutes of Health and the Skoll Global Threats Fund.
The way that fake malaria drugs will be detected is through using a hand-held detector called the CD-3 (Counterfeit Detection Device). The device was developed by the FDA's Cincinnati-based Forensic Chemistry Center. The device will be first used in Ghana.
FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg is quoted by Voice of America as saying: “Fake or substandard anti-malarial drugs cause double damage. Without adequate, prompt treatment, the malaria parasite can kill a person in a matter of days, and inadequate treatment can also lead to the development of drug resistance, potentially rendering all treatment ineffective.”
The maria drugs are just one example of fake pharmaceuticals in the supply chain. The Digital Journal reported last month that more than two dozen of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies have agreed to provide funding and support to Interpol to prevent the sale and distribution of counterfeit prescription drugs.