Safeguarding against substandard/counterfeit drugs: mitigating a macroeconomic pandemic

Res Social Adm Pharm. 2009 Mar;5(1):4-16. doi: 10.1016/j.sapharm.2008.05.002.


Background: Counterfeiting and the sale of substandard pharmaceutical products can no longer be ignored. At 10% of global trade, counterfeiting is affecting many countries, causing serious downstream expenses and resource shortages.

Objective: To describe the nature and impact of drug product counterfeiting and substandard product sale and to present strategies that may have value in ameliorating these phenomena.

Methods: A literature review was conducted, supplemented by interviews of key leaders/experts in the field and the search of relevant web sites. All of the data were combined, integrated, and coordinated to present the complete picture of this problem.

Results: In addition to known corruption in some of the least developed countries, the trail through developed countries was detected. This report identifies means to detect faulty products and describes efforts toward resisting and ending these corrupt practices.

Conclusions: Counterfeit drugs, if not stopped, can be responsible for a macroeconomic pandemic where major portions of some populations may be too ill to work and where the health sector resources are completely overwhelmed, as with the case of HIV/AIDS.

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / drug therapy
  • Anti-HIV Agents / standards
  • Anti-HIV Agents / therapeutic use
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Drug Industry / economics*
  • Drug Industry / standards
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions
  • Fraud
  • Humans
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / economics*
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / standards*
  • Public Health


  • Anti-HIV Agents
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations