Nsimba SE. Problems Associated with Substandard and Counterfeit Drugs in Developing Countries: A Review Article on Global Implications of Counterfeit Drugs in the Era of Antiretroviral (ARVs) Drugs in a Free Market Economy. East Afr J Public Health. 2008;

OBJECTIVES: To review the global implications associated with the use of substandard and or counterfeit drugs in developing and may be developed countries. The focus of this review is particularly on antiretroviral (ARVs), antimalarials and other drugs.

METHODS: Review of various literatures through Pub-Med, Medline, Google and Internet search to retrieve and download published materials was done by the author of this review paper.

RESULTS: When patients receive a counterfeit medicines, they are subjected to multiple risks. They often suffer more than just an inconvenience; as they become victims of fraud medicines and are all put at risk of adverse effects from unprescribed medicines or substandard ingredients. Additionally, patients may lose confidence in health care professionals including their physician and pharmacist, and potentially modern medicine or the pharmaceutical industry in general. Counterfeit or substandard (poor quality) drugs pose threats to society; not only to the individual in terms of the health side effects experienced, but also to the public in terms of trade relations, economic implications, and the effects on global pandemics. It is vital for suppliers, providers, and patients to be aware of current trends in counterfeiting in order to best prepare for encounters with suspicious products. Furthermore, this is an issue that needs to be continually dealt with on national and international policy levels. Developing countries should try their level best to establish good laboratories for monitoring and checking quality of all pharmaceuticals manufactured locally and those imported or donated to these countries. The Ministries of Health and all stakeholders involved in this issue must ensure that all drugs meet the set or established international standards and national standards. Failure to do so will be to misuse the hard earned forex that is normally borrowed from banks for the procurement and distribution of drugs to its people. Indeed sub-standard medications do more harm than good to people's health and it is unethical to give such drugs to people. Of course, in any market, some corruption and fraud always exist, but there are few commercial markets where fraud can have such drastic impact on global health and welfare. It is essential, therefore, that a multi-faceted approach be used to control this problem which affects the international community and continuously threatens the health of millions of people especially in developing countries.

CONCLUSION: Developing countries should try their best at all costs establish good laboratories for monitoring or checking for quality control for all pharmaceuticals locally manufactured and those imported (entering) or donated to countries to make sure that they meet the set or established international or national standards. Short of that countries will be wasting a lot of money using forex which has been borrowed in a form a loans procuring and distributing to its people sub-standard medications which will do more harm than good to its indigenous people and this is unethical per se to give people drugs not meeting required set international standards.