Counterfeit or substandard antimicrobial drugs: a review of the scientific evidence

J Antimicrob Chemother. 2007 Aug;60(2):214-36. doi: 10.1093/jac/dkm109. Epub 2007 Jun 5.


There is growing universal concern regarding counterfeit medications. In particular, counterfeit antimicrobial drugs are a threat to public health with many devastating consequences for patients; increased mortality and morbidity and emergence of drug resistance. In addition, physicians treating these patients lose their confidence in the medications used and report high levels of bacterial resistance. The problem with fake and suboptimal medications got worse with the advent of the World Wide Web; a significant proportion of medications that are sold through Internet pharmacies is counterfeit. Various initiatives of the WHO (the International Medical Products Anti-Counterfeiting Taskforce) are hopefully going to tackle this very important public health issue. In this article, we review the available evidence in peer-reviewed articles and World Wide Web information resources regarding the issue of counterfeit antimicrobials.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / standards*
  • Antiparasitic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antiparasitic Agents / standards
  • Antitubercular Agents / pharmacology
  • Antitubercular Agents / standards
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology
  • Antiviral Agents / standards
  • Biological Availability
  • Drug Industry / standards
  • Drug Industry / statistics & numerical data
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial
  • Humans
  • Terminology as Topic


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Antiparasitic Agents
  • Antitubercular Agents
  • Antiviral Agents