Thursday February 20, 2020

Low Quality Drugs, Medicine Costs More Than Just Money

Even in high-income countries, purchasing cheaper medicines from illegitimate sources online could result in obtaining substandard or falsified medicines.

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Medicines
A seized counterfeit hydrocodone tablets in the investigation of a rash of fentanyl overdoses in northern California is shown in this Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). VOA

About one in eight essential medicines in low- and middle-income countries may be fake or contain dangerous mixes of ingredients that put patients’ lives at risk, a research review suggests.

Researchers examined data from more 350 previous studies that tested more 400,000 drug samples in low- and middle-income countries. Overall, roughly 14 percent of medicines were counterfeit, expired or otherwise low quality and unlikely to be as safe or effective as patients might expect.

“Low-quality medicines can have no or little active pharmaceutical ingredient [and] can prolong illness, lead to treatment failure and contribute to drug resistance,” said lead study author Sachiko Ozawa of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“Or it may have a too much active ingredient and cause a drug overdose,” Ozawa said by email. “If it is contaminated or has other active ingredients, then the medication could cause poisoning, adverse drug interactions or avertable deaths.”

Much of the research to date on counterfeit or otherwise unsafe medicines has focused on Africa, and about half of the studies in the current analysis were done there.

 

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One in five medications tested in Africa were fake. Pixabay

 

Almost one in five medications tested in Africa were fake or otherwise potentially unsafe, researchers report in JAMA Network Open.

 

Another third of the studies were done in Asia, where about 14 percent of medicines tested were found to be counterfeit or otherwise unsafe.

Antibiotics and antimalarials were the most tested drugs in the analysis. Overall, about 19 percent of antimalarials and 12 percent of antibiotics were falsified or otherwise unsafe.

While fake or improperly made medicines undoubtedly harm patients, the current analysis couldn’t tell how many people suffered serious side effects or died as a result of falsified drugs.

Researchers did try to assess the economic impact of counterfeit or improperly made medicines and found the annual cost might run anywhere from $10 billion to $200 billion.

While the study didn’t examine high-income countries, drug quality concerns are by no means limited to less affluent nations, Ozawa said.

Medicines
Different vaccines. Pixabay

“Even in high-income countries, purchasing cheaper medicines from illegitimate sources online could result in obtaining substandard or falsified medicines,” Ozawa said. “Verify the source before you buy medications, and make policymakers aware of the problem so they can work to improve the global supply chain of medicines.”

The study wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove whether or how counterfeit or poorly made medicines directly harm patients, however. And the economic impact was difficult to assess from smaller studies that often didn’t include a detailed methodology for calculating the financial toll.

Also Read: Eating in 10-hour Window May Boost Health

The report “provides important validation of what is largely already known,” Tim Mackey of the Global Health Policy Institute in La Jolla, California, writes in an accompanying editorial.

“It is important to note that although the study is comprehensive, its narrow scope means it only provides a snapshot of the entire problem, as it is limited to studies conducted in low- and middle-income countries and to those
medicines classified as essential by the World Health Organization.” (VOA)

Next Story

Higher Fruits and Vegetables Intake Beneficial for Women: Health Researchers

Higher fruits intake linked to fewer menopausal symptoms

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A healthy diet, rich in fruits and vegetables is known to benefit the human body in so many ways. Pixabay

A healthy diet, rich in fruits and vegetables is known to benefit the human body in so many ways, as now health and lifestyle researchers have found that it may also play a role in lessening various menopause symptoms.

Although hormone therapy has been proven to be an acceptable method for treatment of menopause-related symptoms for many women, the search for nonpharmacologic treatment options is ongoing, especially for women with certain risk factors and those who are not candidates for hormone therapy.

Specifically, there has been a focus on identifying modifiable lifestyle factors that might prevent or alleviate menopause symptoms, said the study, published in the Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Society.

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Eating fruits and vegetables may also play a role in lessening various menopause symptoms. Pixabay

“This small cross-sectional study provides some preliminary evidence regarding the influence of fruit and vegetable intake on menopause symptoms,” said study researcher Stephanie Faubion from The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) in the US.

NAMS is North America’s leading nonprofit organisation dedicated to promoting the health and quality of life of all women during midlife and beyond through an understanding of menopause and healthy aging.

According to the researchers, previous studies have suggested that dietary factors may play a critical role in estrogen production, metabolism, and consequently, menopause symptoms.

In particular, the consumption of fruits or a Mediterranean-style diet, characterised by a high content of vegetables, fruits, cereals, and nuts, was linked to fewer menopause symptoms and complaints.

This new study goes a step further in looking at specific fruits and vegetables and their effects on various menopause symptoms.

Also Read- Here’s why You Should Start Drinking Tart Cherry Juice

Citrus fruits, for example, were called out as having an adverse effect on urogenital scores compared with other types of fruits, as were green leafy or dark yellow vegetables compared with other vegetables, they added.

“There is ample evidence that a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables has a beneficial effect on health in a myriad of ways, but additional study is needed to determine whether various menopause symptoms may be affected by dietary choices,” Faubion said. (IANS)