In a shocking new report published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, researchers have documented the true toll of counterfeit medicines around the world due to medicine being subtherapeutic or outright ineffective. Subtherapeutic medicine allows patients to die without sufficient treatment, but it also creates treatment resistant strains of diseases.
The paper goes into greater detail, explaining that 155,000 childhood deaths annually can be attributed to counterfeit anti-malarial medicines, with a similar number lost to acute pneumonia as a result of fake or substandard antimicrobials. The article estimates that the prevalence of counterfeit medicine is 10% of the drug supply in low- and middle-income countries, and that the economic cost is between $10 and $200 billion in U.S. dollars.
One area of concern to policymakers in the U.S. should be the danger of breaking the supply chain and allowing the global criminal enterprises in those countries to supply the U.S. with no fear of prosecution. A further area of concern is that those treatment resistant diseases will eventually be brought back to America by international travel.
The only safe solution to keeping these counterfeits out of our drug supply is to never weaken the supply chain, and continue implementing systems like Track and Trace and the aggressive inspection posture of the U.S. FDA to ensure that our medicines are safe.