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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

GLOBAL: Spurious Tuberculosis Drugs Pose a Threat


New York Times (07.01.2013)

Researchers reported that pharmacy sales of substandard TB medications in poor countries could result in a public health crisis. Report author Dr. Amir Attaran, a drug-counterfeiting expert at the University of Ottawa, stated that 9 percent of 713 samples of TB medications purchased in 17 countries contained little or no active ingredient. Medications with too little active ingredient were even more dangerous than those with no active ingredient, as an “inadequate dose” allowed drug-resistant TB strains to develop. Dr. Lucica Ditiu, executive secretary of Stop TB Partnership, which is affiliated with the World Health Organization, affirmed that the study identified weak points in the TB control system. The Stop TB Partnership packages high-quality TB drugs for approximately $30 per six-month supply. The drugs are free for poor countries and available at a reduced cost for middle-income countries. Attaran urged all countries to follow WHO recommendations, ban sales of TB drugs, and purchase the Stop TB Partnership drugs. Poor countries such as Rwanda have demonstrated they could control TB through “pharmacovigilance.” India, which has not enforced pharmacovigilance, is now facing a multidrug-resistant TB epidemic. The full report, “Combatting Substandard and Falsified Medicines: A View from Rwanda,” was published online in the journal PLOS Medicine (2013; doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001476).


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