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Fake drug threat growing

Two new reports are focused on the growing threat from counterfeit drugs.

In this issue of Foreign Affairs, three experts examine the rapid increase in the fake drug trade:

Multiple studies estimate that up to 50 percent of medicine in circulation in regions of Africa and Southeast Asia today is fake. And in 2009 alone, more than 20 million counterfeit pills were seized in China and Southeast Asia.

And, as I reported earlier last month, this should be of concern to all of us in the United States because so many of our drugs (nearly half) and pharmaceutical ingredients (80 percent) are made overseas.

Similarly, Laurie Garrett at the Council on Foreign Relations makes specific recommendations aimed at beefing up the safety and reliability of global pharmaceutical supply:

The world is facing two immediate health crises concerning drugs and vaccines: affordable and reliable access to life-sparing medicines and the safety and reliability of those medicines. Regulation and distribution systems to ensure access and protect public safety, where they exist, are outdated.



About Author

Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at] or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.