Are drugs made in emerging markets good quality?

One of the unwritten, unspoken and rarely thought-about assumptions of those buying medicines is that they will work. We take it for granted that the medicines we buy will work as the scientists who developed the product intended. But in many places this is not the case – especially in Africa and to a lesser extent in Asia and Latin America, says Roger Bate, the Legatum Fellow in Global Prosperity at the American Enterprise Institute.

The reasons are complex, but essentially there are three types of "problem products": counterfeit, substandard and degraded.

  • Counterfeits are products which are passed off as something they are not; substantial effort is put into creating perfect copies of real packaging, but little care is usually put into making the products properly.
  • Substandard products are those where manufacturers are sloppy and, ignoring gross negligence, unintentionally make bad copies of drugs.
  • Degraded products are properly manufactured but become bad because of incorrect storage; this is a significant concern in places with no electricity for refrigeration and no cold chain transport storage.

    Source: Roger Bate, Are Drugs Made in Emerging Markets Good Quality? American Enterprise Institute, June 1, 2011.

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    First published by the National Center for Policy Analysis, United States

    FMF Policy Bulletin/ 07 June 2011
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