Advertisement
Policy Forum

Policy Forum Policy Forum articles provide a platform for health policy makers from around the world to discuss the challenges and opportunities in improving health care to their constituencies.

See all article types »

The Global Threat of Counterfeit Drugs: Why Industry and Governments Must Communicate the Dangers

  • Robert Cockburn equal contributor mail,

    equal contributor Contributed equally to this work with: Robert Cockburn, Paul N Newton

    To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: rcockburn@libero.it

    X
  • Paul N Newton equal contributor,

    equal contributor Contributed equally to this work with: Robert Cockburn, Paul N Newton

    X
  • E. Kyeremateng Agyarko,
  • Dora Akunyili,
  • Nicholas J White
  • Published: March 14, 2005
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0020100

Reader Comments (3)

Post a new comment on this article

E-letter to submit in response to “Cockburn R, Newton PN, Agyarko EK, Akunyili D, White NJ (2005) The global threat of counterfeit drugs: why industry and governments must communicate

Posted by plosmedicine on 31 Mar 2009 at 00:12 GMT

Author: Robert Cockburn
E-mail: rcockburn@libero.it
Submitted Date: August 17, 2007
Published Date: August 17, 2007
This comment was originally posted as a “Reader Response” on the publication date indicated above. All Reader Responses are now available as comments.

We and others (Cockburn et al. 2005, Newton et al. 2006, Pandey 2005, Primo-Carpenter 2007) have quoted a news story in the San Francisco Examiner (Fackler 2002) which states that in 2001 192,000 people died in China as a consequence of fake drugs. This story was sourced to the Shenzhen Evening News of 25th January 2002.

We are grateful to Professor Jin Shaohong, Executive Director-General of the National Institute for the Control of Pharmaceutical and Biological Products in Beijing, for pointing out that the English translation of the Shenzhen Evening News story used by the San Francisco
Examiner and other newspapers is incorrect. The article does not refer to counterfeit drugs but claims that 192,000 people died of drug-induced diseases from the irrational use of drugs in 2001. This statistic is often quoted in the literature on counterfeit pharmaceuticals.

Unfortunately, there is very little reliable data on the prevalence of counterfeit or substandard medicines, or the incidence of death and harm resulting from their use, from any country. China has not yet published an estimate. However, the evidence available demonstrates that counterfeit pharmaceutical drugs pose a severe public health problem in many countries and the absence of reliable numbers greatly hampers attempts to combat the problem and to assess the effectiveness of interventions. There is an urgent need to gather objective data to inform decisions.

Paul N Newton
Robert Cockburn *
Nicholas J White

* Corresponding author. rcockburn@libero.it

Cockburn R, Newton PN, Agyarko EK, Akunyili D, White NJ (2005) The global
threat of counterfeit drugs: why industry and governments must communicate
the dangers. PLoS Medicine 2, e100.

Fackler M (2002) China¹s fake drugs kill thousands. San Francisco Examiner,
electronic edition. 29th July 2002.

Newton PN, Green MD, Fernández FM, Day NJP, White NJ (2006) Counterfeit
anti-infective medicines. Lancet Infectious Diseases 6, 602-613.

Pandey H (2005) Counterfeit drugs: a major problem for Asia. Available at:
http://www.ap-foodtechnol....
Accessed 12.5.2007.

Primo-Carpenter J (2007) Matrix of Drug Quality Reports in USAID-assisted
Countries. Available at:
http://www.usp.org/pdf/EN.... Accessed 12.5.2007

Competing interests declared: NJW is on the editorial board of PLoS Medicine. RC and PNN declare that they have no competing interests.