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Africa's Counterfeit Pharmaceutical Epidemic: The Road Ahead

NCJ Number
Roy S. Fenoff; Jeremy M. Wilson
Date Published
October 2009
20 pages
This article examines the problem of Africa's counterfeit pharmaceutical epidemic.
According to estimates from the World Health Organization (WHO), a significant portion of the world's drug supply is counterfeit, ranging from 10-15 percent of the world supply of drugs to more than 30 percent of drugs sold in Africa to over 70 percent of drugs sold in Nigeria. The definition of a counterfeit drug used in this paper was developed by the WHO in 2009 and is listed as: "a counterfeit medicine (drug) is one which is deliberately and fraudulently mislabeled with respect to identity and/or source" and can apply to both branded and generic products. This article examines the problem of counterfeit drugs in Africa and presents a model of the counterfeiting process. In addition, the article discusses a list of supplier characteristics, the distribution process of counterfeit drugs in Africa, the increased demand for inexpensive lifesaving drugs, the negative impacts of counterfeit drugs on the health and economies of African nations, and a list of intervention efforts that are currently underway in some African nations. A list of areas that need further study is also presented. References