Tackling corruption in the pharmaceutical systems worldwide with courage and conviction

Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2007 Mar;81(3):445-9. doi: 10.1038/sj.clpt.6100074. Epub 2007 Jan 24.


Poor drug access continues to be one of the main global health problems. Global inequalities in access to pharmaceuticals are caused by a number of variables including poverty, high drug prices, poor health infrastructure, and fraud and corruption--the latter being the subject of this article. There is growing recognition among policy makers that corruption in the pharmaceutical system can waste valuable resources allocated to pharmaceutical products and services. This, in turn, denies those most in need from life-saving or life-enhancing medicines. As a result, international organizations, including the World Health Organization and the World Bank are beginning to address the issue of corruption in the health sector broadly and the pharmaceutical system specifically. This is encouraging news for improving drug access for the global poor who are most harmed by corruption as they tend to purchase less expensive drugs from unqualified or illegal drug sellers selling counterfeit or sub-standard drugs. In our paper, we illuminate what are the core issues that relate to corruption in the pharmaceutical sector. We argue that corruption in the pharmaceutical system can be detrimental to a country's ability to improve the health of its population. Moreover, unless policy makers deal with the issue of corruption, funding allocated to the pharmaceutical system to treat health conditions may simply be wasted and the inequality between rich and poor in access to health and pharmaceutical products will be aggravated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Documentation
  • Drug Costs
  • Drug Industry / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Drug Industry / standards*
  • Drug Prescriptions / standards
  • Fraud
  • Legislation, Drug
  • Pharmacies / standards
  • Public Policy*