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Free Content Substandard and falsified anti-tuberculosis drugs: a preliminary field analysis

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SETTING: Pharmacies in 19 cities in Angola, Brazil, China, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, India (n = 3), Kenya, Nigeria, Russia, Rwanda, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the quality of the two main first-line anti-tuberculosis medicines, isoniazid and rifampicin, procured from private-sector pharmacies, to determine if substandard and falsified medicines are available and if they potentially contribute to drug resistance in cities in low- and middle-income countries.

DESIGN: Local nationals procured 713 treatment packs from a selection of pharmacies in 19 cities. These samples were tested for quality using 1) thin-layer chromatography to analyze levels of active pharmaceutical ingredient (API), and 2) disintegration testing.

RESULTS: Of 713 samples tested, 9.1% failed basic quality testing for requisite levels of API or disintegration. The failure rate was 16.6% in Africa, 10.1% in India, and 3.9% in other middle-income countries.

CONCLUSIONS: Substandard and falsified drugs are readily available in the private marketplace and probably contribute to anti-tuberculosis drug resistance in low- and middle-income countries. This issue warrants further investigation through large-scale studies of drug quality in all markets.
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Keywords: MDR-TB; XDR-TB; drug resistance; malaria; substandard drugs

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: American Enterprise Institute, Washington, DC, USA 2: Pivit LLC, Washington, DC, USA 3: Africa Fighting Malaria, Washington, DC, USA 4: Africa Fighting Malaria, Cambridge, UK

Publication date: March 1, 2013

More about this publication?
  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (IJTLD) is for clinical research and epidemiological studies on lung health, including articles on TB, TB-HIV and respiratory diseases such as COVID-19, asthma, COPD, child lung health and the hazards of tobacco and air pollution. Individuals and institutes can subscribe to the IJTLD online or in print – simply email us at [email protected] for details.

    The IJTLD is dedicated to understanding lung disease and to the dissemination of knowledge leading to better lung health. To allow us to share scientific research as rapidly as possible, the IJTLD is fast-tracking the publication of certain articles as preprints prior to their publication. Read fast-track articles.

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