Patients expect drugs to be safe. But even in well-run health systems, they can be useless. Or even deadly. Many deaths have been linked to contaminated drugs, or some which lack active ingredients.
No one knows exactly how many medicines are fake, ill-made, or stolen. However, bad pharmaceuticals are a global problem. National drug-safety agencies are struggling to contain it. It particularly affects countries where officials are bribable, health systems lax and consumers desperate.
Price pressure encourages even well-intentioned drug-makers to cut corners. For criminals, fake drugs are profitable and the penalties are low.
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