In a recent research report, World Health Organisation (WHO) revealed that one in 10 medical products in low and middle-income countries such as India is either "substandard or falsified".
As per the WHO, medicines not only fail to treat or prevent diseases but can also cause serious illness or even death.
"Substandard and falsified medicines particularly affect the most vulnerable communities," said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director-General.
The WHO has received around 1,500 reports of cases of substandard or falsified products since 2013. Antimalarials and antibiotics are the most commonly reported.
Around 42 percent of such kind of reports come from the WHO African Region, 21 percent from the WHO Region of the Americas, and 21 percent from the WHO European Region.
"This is likely just a small fraction of the total problem and many cases may be going unreported. For example, only 8 percent of reports of substandard or falsified products to WHO came from the WHO Western Pacific Region, 6 percent from the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region, and just 2 percent from the WHO South-East Asia Region," said the report.
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The report also cited that these substandard or falsified medicines are unable to cure the diseases and also promote antimicrobial resistance in people and such kind of bacteria or virus resistant to medicine will become impossible to treat.
Antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines are manufactured and prescribed to destroy the illness causing pathogens but according to the report the active ingredients are not released properly which kill some of the pathogens, but not all of them."The ones that survive will be the ones that have mutated enough to survive low doses of the medicine. Usually, they do not reproduce very quickly. But with all the more susceptible strains killed by the weak medicines, they have room to multiply and spread to more people," said the report.
It is the first time in 10 years that the WHO is publishing estimates on substandard and falsified medical products in low- and middle-income countries.
WHO emphasised the need for an improved version of the same treatment instead of doctors trying to alternative options.
"This really is a global problem. In the age of cheap air travel and mass population movements, people who develop resistant infections because of substandard or falsified medicines in one country can easily travel to another country and pass on the mutant infection," said the report, adding that once a bacteria or virus is resistant to a medicine, even a full treatment course will not kill it.
"So even if the medicines in the new host country are all perfect quality, they will not cure the disease," said the report.
The report says that some 15 years ago, global sales of medicines rose above US$ 500 billion for the first time. Since then, sales have doubled again, to approximately US$ 1.1 trillion, with by far the largest growth occurring in middle-income markets.
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