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Free Content Fake antimalarials in Southeast Asia are a major impediment to malaria control: multinational cross-sectional survey on the prevalence of fake antimalarials

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Summary Objective 

To assess the prevalence of counterfeit antimalarial drugs in Southeast (SE) Asia. Design 

Cross-sectional survey. Setting 

Pharmacies and shops selling antimalarial drugs in Myanmar (Burma), Lao PDR, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. Main outcome measures 

Proportion of artemisinin derivatives or mefloquine containing drugs of substandard quality. Results 

Of the 188 tablet packs purchased which were labelled as ‘artesunate’ 53% did not contain any artesunate. All counterfeit artesunate tablets were labelled as manufactured by ‘Guilin Pharma’, and refinements of the fake blisterpacks made them often hard to distinguish from their genuine counterparts. No other artemisinin derivatives were found to be counterfeited. Of the 44 mefloquine samples, 9% contained <10% of the expected amount of active ingredient. Conclusions 

An alarmingly high proportion of antimalarial drugs bought in pharmacies and shops in mainland SE Asia are counterfeit, and the problem has increased significantly compared with our previous survey in 1999–2000. This is a serious threat to public health in the region.
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Keywords: Southeast Asia; counterfeit drugs; fake antimalarials; malaria

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Wellcome Trust-Mahosot Hospital-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Collaboration, Mahosot Hospital, Vientiane, Lao People's Democratic Republic 2: Department of Public Health, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium 3: M├ędecins Sans Frontieres, Yangon, Myanmar 4: Wildlife Conservation Society – Thailand Program, Bangkok, Thailand 5: Wildlife Conservation Society – Lao PDR Program, Vientiane, Lao People's Democratic Republic 6: Hospital for Tropical Diseases, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam 7: Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand 8: US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA

Publication date: 2004-12-01

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