Africa gets substandard malaria drugs

Sunday 15 June 2008

A recent study has found that substandard anti-malarial drugs are being distributed in six African countries--Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. Use of these drugs may develop resistance in the pathogen. The study led by Africa FIghting Malaria, an NGO, suggests financial resources should be used for post-market surveillance of antimalarial drug quality.

For the study, researchers collected malaria treatment packs and ran thin-layer chromatography and dissolution tests to measure the concentration of active ingredients in the drugs and compared them with international standards. Of the 210 samples tested, 35 per cent of them failed either or both the tests; 33 per cent were artemisinin monotherapies (who in 2006 had recommended a ban on its production and marketing); 42 per cent of the artemisinin monotherapies collected failed either test and 78 per cent were found manufactured after the 2006 recommendation. The researchers showed that post-market surveillance could be achieved by using inexpensive testing facilities and said testing facilities could become a part of the existing set-ups. The study was published in PLoS One on May 7.

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