MPH/MBA student publishes in The Lancet
Research ferrets out fake antimalarials contributing to global scourge.
Access to safe and affordable medicines is a public health priority that drives the work of Gaurvika Nayyar, an MPH/MBA student with expertise on the issue of fake and poor-quality medicines in developing countries.
Her interest in that problem grew into a research project when she was an NIH research fellow and expanded into an investigation that last year was published in The Lancet.
A review of multi-country studies in Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa from 1999 to 2012 found that one-third of all sampled drugs from both regions failed chemical analysis; 36 percent of Asian drugs and 20 percent of African drugs were classified as fake.
The drugs contained inferior ingredients, incorrect amounts of malaria-fighting agents, or no active agent at all. According to the study, individuals who take counterfeit or poor quality antimalarials may face prolonged illness or death; malaria kills more than 660,000 people each year. These so-called medicines also may contribute to increasing drug resistance among malaria parasites.
The Lancet review calls for new testing technology that allows developing countries to more easily identify sub-standard drugs, public education campaigns and stronger laws to prosecute drug counterfeiters.
“No quick solution exists for the issue of poor-quality antimalarial drugs,” the report concludes. “Rather, a multifaceted approach is needed to successfully address this global scourge.”