Dangerous Substandard Medicines: An Increasing Global Problem

AEI Health Policy Outlook No. 6

7 Pages Posted: 22 Oct 2013

See all articles by Roger Bate

Roger Bate

American Enterprise Institute (AEI)

Julissa Milligan

American Enterprise Institute (AEI)

Lorraine Mooney

Africa Fighting Malaria (UK)

Date Written: July 6, 2011

Abstract

Legal but poorly made, or substandard, drugs can be lethal. The problem is most prevalent in emerging markets, where gross flaws in production, especially by domestic producers selling only in local markets, are easily detected by simple quality-control tests. These problems will worsen as more emerging countries, often supported by aid agencies, develop their own manufacturing capabilities. Flaws are rarer and more difficult to detect in developed countries, but they still pose a significant danger to public health. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released its "Pathway to Global Product Safety and Quality," a report that candidly explains that the FDA cannot adequately oversee the safety of chemicals manufactured overseas and imported into the United States. Some generic drugs are not equivalent to innovator products, and while they are effective for most patients, they can be fatal for others. Such production flaws will be exacerbated by lower-quality chemical inputs from China, the world's largest chemical supplier. While China's products are always cheap, they are not always high quality; even perfectly formulated products may be lethal if the ingredients are suspect. Drug shortages and adverse health outcomes will increase as a result, even in the United States.

Suggested Citation

Bate, Roger and Milligan, Julissa and Mooney, Lorraine, Dangerous Substandard Medicines: An Increasing Global Problem (July 6, 2011). AEI Health Policy Outlook No. 6, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2342758 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2342758

Roger Bate (Contact Author)

American Enterprise Institute (AEI) ( email )

1150 17th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
United States

Julissa Milligan

American Enterprise Institute (AEI) ( email )

1150 17th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
United States

Lorraine Mooney

Africa Fighting Malaria (UK) ( email )

Cambridge
United Kingdom

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