Target: Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization
Goal: Stop global trade of dangerous fake medicines.
From snake-oils to blank pills, fake medicines are a centuries-old problem. However, a recent special seventeen-paper supplement in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene gives renewed cause for concern. The segment laid out some alarming statistics: out of the 16,800 samples taken of antituberculosis, antibiotics, and other drugs, nine to forty-one percent of them failed to meet quality control standards. Poor quality typically means that too little or even no active ingredient is added, raising the risk of drug resistance in disease organisms. In a hospital setting, patients receiving substandard medicine can put other patients at risk of contracting the disease. Push for international regulation to combat this dangerous trade.
Many countries lack a regulatory agency like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which makes the challenge of cracking down on this extensive illegal market even greater. Most criminals found guilty of putting falsified medicine on the market receive a small fine. Meanwhile, the fake drug industry is estimated to bring in seventy-five billion dollars a year, according to National Institutes of Health infectious disease expert Joel Breman in an interview for NPR.
Worse still is the real death toll that can be traced to fake medicines. As one of the studies reports, one hundred and twenty-two thousand children under age five in sub-Saharan African countries are dying due to anti-malarial medicine containing no active ingredient. This number accounts for up to twenty percent of all reported malaria deaths, according to Breman in NPR.
Fake medicines may historically have received little attention in politics, but their devastating impact on the lives of some of the most disease vulnerable individuals in the world must not go unnoticed.
Please sign the petition below, and call for an internationally recognized protocol for dealing with criminals who produce fake medicines. Raise your voice to demand better leadership, so we can move toward finding the best, most-effective, and maintainable medicines for all.
Dear Director-General Chan,
I am writing in order to bring your attention to the global problem of counterfeit medicines. As you are most likely aware, fake drugs pose can promote antibiotic resistance in disease organisms. In a hospital setting, patients receiving blank medications are more likely to spread infection to other patients. The situation is serious indeed as people believe they are being protected or healed when they are actually placed at greater risk for disease. I urge you to address this tragic injustice.
Many countries lack regulatory agencies to administer punishment to criminals that are growing the fake drug industry, estimated to bring in seventy-five billion dollars in revenue per year. Worse still, according to a recent study in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, one hundred and twenty-two thousand children under age five in sub-Saharan African countries are dying due to anti-malarial medicine containing no active ingredient.
Please use your leadership to create an internationally recognized protocol for addressing counterfeit medications. Letting this dangerous trade continue will only result in more lives lost, lives that medicine should have saved.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: U.S. Library of Congress via Wikimedia Commons