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Meta-Analysis
, 1 (4), e181662

Prevalence and Estimated Economic Burden of Substandard and Falsified Medicines in Low- And Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Affiliations
Meta-Analysis

Prevalence and Estimated Economic Burden of Substandard and Falsified Medicines in Low- And Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Sachiko Ozawa et al. JAMA Netw Open.

Abstract

Importance: Substandard and falsified medicines burden health systems by diverting resources to ineffective or harmful therapies, causing medical complications and prolonging illnesses. However, the prevalence and economic impact of poor-quality medicines is unclear.

Objective: To conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess the prevalence and estimated economic burden of substandard and falsified essential medicines in low- and middle-income countries.

Data sources: Five databases (PubMed, EconLit, Global Health, Embase, and Scopus) were searched from inception until November 3, 2017.

Study selection: Publications were assessed to determine whether they examined medicine quality and the prevalence and/or economic burden of substandard and falsified medicines in low- and middle-income countries. Studies with a sample size of 50 or more were included in the meta-analysis.

Data extraction and synthesis: The study is registered in PROSPERO and reported via the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) reporting guidelines. Study quality was assessed using an adapted Medicine Quality Assessment Reporting Guidelines scoring metric. Multiple reviewers conducted the data extraction and quality assessment independently.

Main outcomes and measures: Prevalence and/or estimated economic impact of substandard and falsified medicines.

Results: Two hundred sixty-five studies that estimated the prevalence of poor-quality essential medicines in low- and middle-income countries were identified. Among 96 studies that tested 50 samples or more (67 839 total drug samples), overall prevalence of poor-quality medicines was 13.6% (95% CI, 11.0%-16.3%), with regional prevalence of 18.7% in Africa (95% CI, 12.9%-24.5%) and 13.7% in Asia (95% CI, 8.2%-19.1%). Of studies included in the meta-analysis, 19.1% (95% CI, 15.0%-23.3%) of antimalarials and 12.4% (95% CI, 7.1%-17.7%) of antibiotics were substandard or falsified. Eight approximations of the economic impact, focused primarily on market size, with poor or undisclosed methods in estimation were identified, ranging from $10 billion to $200 billion.

Conclusions and relevance: Poor-quality essential medicines are a substantial and understudied problem. Methodological standards for prevalence and rigorous economic studies estimating the burden beyond market size are needed to accurately assess the scope of the issue and inform efforts to address it. Global collaborative efforts are needed to improve supply-chain management, surveillance, and regulatory capacity in low- and middle-income countries to reduce the threat of poor-quality medicines.

Trial registration: PROSPERO Identifier: CRD42017080266.

Conflict of interest statement

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.

Figures

Figure 1.
Figure 1.. PRISMA Flowchart
Figure 2.
Figure 2.. Prevalence of Substandard and Falsified Medicines in Low- and Middle-Income Countries by Medicine Category and Region
The forest plot presents mean prevalence by study category among studies that only examined specific medicines.
Figure 3.
Figure 3.. Reported National Prevalences of Substandard and Falsified Medicines
Results of studies included in the meta-analysis. Multicountry studies that did not report country-specific data were not included. Subcategorical prevalence is delineated by color (blue, green, purple, and red as categories 1 through 4), and by color gradation, with a darker color representing a higher prevalence. Total number of samples tested for each country is presented as a black circle with the diameter of the circle increasing proportionally to samples tested. This map was generated using study data and the Microsoft Excel 2016 3D Mapping tool.

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