Counterfeit Drugs Essay

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Norman Swan: Hello and welcome to the Health Report with me, Norman Swan. Last week was a particularly bad one for American democracy with even diluted gun control measures failing to pass the Senate and failing to respond to the gut wrenching massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut in December. Well, later on in the Health Report, a leading researcher suggests a few public health measures based on what's worked to reduce road deaths. And fake, or counterfeit drugs. It's a huge issue globally and for Australians who might be buying their medicines online. Some observers have estimated that half of all online medicines purchased are either not what they're supposed to be or seriously substandard. There have also been interdictions in Australia of quite large quantities of counterfeit medications coming into the country. The situation is even more dire in poorer nations. The counterfeit market in antimalarials in West Africa alone has been estimated at $400 million a year. As you're about to hear, drug fakes could be undermining malaria control, making antibiotic resistance worse, and increasing unwanted pregnancies from fake contraceptive pills, amongst other consequences. Associate Professor Facundo Fernandez is a chemist and biochemist at Georgia Tech, Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, where he runs one of the world's most sophisticated laboratories doing the detective work trying to identify and trace the origins of fake medicines. Facundo Fernandez: My first encounter with fake drugs was many years ago. I was contacted by a colleague at the CDC in Atlanta and he told me that he had been working with some falsified medicines collected in Southeast Asia, and he could tell that these were falsified because the active ingredient wasn't there. But he also saw that there were other chemicals in these samples. And I just didn't

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