The world is becoming a global village and there are emerging trends sweeping through the global community with the speed of a high magnitude tsunami. Cultures and principles are not spared as this trend emerges. The economic exigencies and demand for quality service delivery is informing some of these positive global trends. On the other hand, there is a trend that is assuming an alarming dimension borne out of greed and desire for quick money. Manufacturing and distribution of counterfeit, substandard or “fake” medicine is a monster which must be tamed. According to (Black Law Dictionary, cited in Akunyili, 2010, p.15) the term counterfeit drug may be used to describe a drug produced by an entity other than the genuine manufacturer, by copying or imitating an original product without authority or right, with a view to deceiving or defrauding the consuming public, and then offering for sale the copied or forged drugs as original. In this discourse, I will be examining the topic by highlighting on the global nature, health risks and economic implication of counterfeit drugs while conclusion will focus on the way forward.
The Global Nature:
Counterfeiting of drugs is not a localized threat. This trend has assumed a global dimension as there is virtually no continent, region or countries of the world that is spared of this dangerous phenomenon. Though counterfeiting of commodities cannot be said to be totally a new trend, it is rather assuming an alarming dimension. This is evidenced by the fact that there is preponderance of research work reporting experience with counterfeit drugs affecting virtually all continents of the globe. The malaise is affecting both the highly and less industrialized nations alike. The American Society of Health System Pharmacist observed in an article that “The US drug supply is purportedly one of the safest in the world and yet counterfeit medications do make their way to pharmacy shelves and into hands of unsuspecting patients.” It is very easy to make conclusive deductions from this statement that if United States of America with all its stringent regulations cannot effectively checkmate circulation of counterfeit drugs, no other country will be able to achieve this. Another thought highlighting the global nature of the phenomenon is the fact that the World Health Organization (WHO) is also arising to this challenge. This is seen by their launching of International Medical Products Anti-Counterfeiting Taskforce (IMPACT) as observed by (Cabezas, M. D, 2010). WHO gets involves when any health challenge assumes a global dimension.
The Health Risks:
A very critical question in discussing the issue of counterfeit medicine as a global trend is what health risks does this constitute? The space for this work cannot permit to state all the health risks the counterfeiting of medicine pose to patients and the unsuspecting populace. Every medicine contains an active ingredient which is meant to treat particular disease state. It is necessary to observe that in most counterfeit medicines, it is either they do not contain the active ingredient, contains it in a lower concentration or the active ingredient is totally replaced with another substance which may be toxic to the body. In any of the case above, the major purpose in administering a medicine is being defeated; meaning a deterioration of the patient’s health. During one of our routine check around pharmacies in my work locality with an electronic device that can do on the spot check of drugs for active ingredient (TRUSCAN). It was observed that a brand of anti-malaria did not contain the needed active ingredient (Artemisinin) but rather contains a sleep medication (Lexotan and baby powder as excipients. This is a dangerous act, if a patient takes this counterfeit product, because of the drowsiness effect of lexotan such will be deceived to think the drug is working, while the active ingredient...