Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Prof Paul Newton, Director of LOMWRU and Head of the Medicine Quality Group at the Infectious Diseases Data Observatory IDDO, explains the history of falsified medicines and highlights what needs to be done to avert a problem that threatens us all.

Liquid drug in vials

Prof Paul Newton, Director of LOMWRU and Head of the Medicine Quality Group at the Infectious Diseases Data Observatory IDDO, explains the history of falsified medicines and highlights what needs to be done to avert a problem that threatens us all.

From Vienna to the Democratic Republic of Congo, fake medicines have threatened citizens across the board – and borders – in wartime as well as peacetime.

Falsified medicines have sadly probably been with us since the first manufacture of medicines and their producers may be the world’s third oldest profession after prostitution and spying. Last year falsified ampicillin was discovered circulating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in bottles of 1,000 capsules and containing no detectable ampicillin.

The post Second World War trade of fake penicillin inspired The Third Man, a fascinating film written by Graham Greene and set in Vienna. Many of the characters, including the protagonist, fake penicillin smuggler Harry Lime, were inspired by real spies and criminals who used penicillin – both falsified and genuine – to bribe, lure and get rich in the chaos of post-war Germany and Austria. Greene later turned the script into a novel.

Unfortunately, the problem is not yet consigned to history. There are probably thousands of Third Men hidden in today’s world, for example, a Parisian who ‘manufactured’ falsified antimalarials containing laxatives, international trade in falsified medicines especially from Asia into Africa, and emergency contraceptives containing antimalarials in South America.

The full story is available on the University of Oxford website

 

Similar stories

Field evaluation of EasyScan GO: a digital malaria microscopy device

Microscopic examination of Giemsa-stained blood films is key to quantifying and detecting malaria parasites but there can be difficulties in ensuring both a high-quality manual reading and inter-reader reliability. The EasyScan GO was developed as a potential solution to this, a microscopy device using machine-learning-based image analysis for automated parasite detection and quantification.

Registration is open for The Global Health Network Conference 2022

To tackle disease we need evidence to be generated through every type of health research study. This conference aims to bring together health research teams, organisations, health-workers, policy makers and practitioners to explore together how health research can be embedded into every healthcare setting. Join us at The Global Health Network Conference 2022 at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, 24 – 25 November 2022

The inside story of Recovery: how the world’s largest COVID-19 trial transformed treatment – and what it could do for other diseases

Two years ago, the Recovery trial transformed the care of COVID patients with its dexamethasone announcement. Within four hours, the steroid was included in NHS treatment recommendations. Almost overnight, treatment of COVID patients around the world changed completely. It has been estimated that dexamethasone may have saved a million lives in the first nine months following the announcement. Recovery is a groundbreaking scientific machine which, from the outset, moved at unprecedented speed. In the first 100 days alone, the trial produced three groundbreaking results that would completely reshape COVID care.

Gail Carson chair of GOARN

Dr Gail Carson from the International Severe Acute Respiratory and emerging Infection Consortium (ISARIC) is nominated chair of WHO Global Outbreak Alert & Response Network (GOARN)

Enhanced vaccination against Japanese encephalitis virus could reduce encephalitis prevalence by one third in SE Asia

Encephalitis is a worldwide public health issue, with a substantially high burden among children in Southeast Asia. A large study of the causes of childhood encephalitis in SE Asia suggests that enhanced and effective vaccination against the Japanese encephalitis virus alone could reduce encephalitis prevalence by one third.

RECOVERY trial celebrates two-year anniversary of life-saving dexamethasone result

Two years ago, the RECOVERY trial gave the world its first breakthrough against coronavirus: the discovery that an inexpensive steroid pill, dexamethasone, reduced deaths by up to a third from COVID-1. Within hours, the result was breaking news across the world and hospitals were adopting the drug into the standard care given to all patients with COVID-19. In the nine months following the discovery, dexamethasone saved an estimated one million lives worldwide.