On October 12, The Foundation Chirac, a long-time champion of access to safe medicines in African countries, is hosting a meeting in Cotonou, Benin, to discuss the counterfeit drugs that plague African citizens.

Thomas T. KubicKubic (sm)

On October 12, The Foundation Chirac, a long-time champion of access to safe medicines in African countries, is hosting a meeting in Cotonou, Benin, to discuss the counterfeit drugs that plague African citizens.

The poorest countries in the world are often the ones hardest hit by counterfeit drugs.  Counterfeit drug makers target these countries because the developing regulatory systems often leads to unregulated markets, plus the supply of basic medicines is often scarce, erratic or unaffordable.  In fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), many countries in Africa and parts of Asia and Latin America have areas where more than 30 percent of the medicines on sale are counterfeit.

Counterfeit drug producers have been exploiting the situation in Africa for years.  With little government oversight, counterfeit drug producers in other countries refine their illicit craft—creating increasingly sophisticated operations and generating larger revenues than those derived from the traffic of illegal recreational drugs.  Today, we’ve seen these criminal groups shift their focus from the African nations to other areas around the world, such as Europe and the United States.

It’s vital that organizations working in Africa recognize that safe, effective medicine is what is needed to address the health challenges the people of Africa face.  Quality drugs are what is needed and will offset the demand for counterfeit drugs in these countries.

For more information on the Partnership for Safe Medicines’ (PSM) International Principles for Drug Safety and other ideas of the PSM to combating the distribution of counterfeit drugs, visit www.safemedicines.org.