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Medicine Quality

The Medicine Quality Scientific Group is sharing expertise and collating information to increase our understanding of the prevalence and distribution of poor-quality medicines around the world.

Substandard and falsified (SF) medical products, including vaccines, biologics, diagnostic tests and medicines, are widespread due to poor manufacture (substandard medicines) or deliberate falsification. SF medical products jeopardise national, regional and global attempts to improve access to effective health care because they lead to avoidable morbidity, waste financial resources and may contribute to drug resistance.

Poor quality medicines - both falsified and substandard - of commonly used antimalarials are frequently found. The consequences include prolonged sickness, treatment failure, side effects, loss of income, increased healthcare costs and increased risk of mortality. These medicines may contain sub-therapeutic amounts of artemisinin derivatives, such as artesunate, but usually contain no malaria medication at all. Inadequate dosing may have serious implications for increasing antimalarial resistance.

Poor antimalarial quality is a key factor amongst those that threaten to undo the significant gains in malaria control seen in the last decade. The Medicine Quality Research Group is   collating and curating information to increase our understanding of the prevalence and distribution of poor-quality medicines around the world. It encourages discussion of poor quality medicine epidemiology, detection and prevention, and aims to facilitate improvement in the quality of medicines that patients actually take.

Overview of our work

The open-access tools developed by the Medicine Quality Research Group are now hosted on the Infectious Diseases Data Observatory (IDDO) website. These include:

  • Medicine Quality Scientific Literature Surveyor - antimalarial quality data - a new interactive, online tool that maps medicines quality scientific evidence across geography and time
  • Medicine Quality Globe – online tool mapping real-time medicine quality media reports on the quality of medical products across the world
  • View the WWARN Reference Materials programme which provides validated antimalarial reference materials to minimise bias arising from poor-quality reference standards.

    The proficiency testing programme helps laboratories assess their ability to carry out drug analysis and resolve any potential problem areas, improving the quality of data output.

  • For more information about contributing antimalarial quality data to WWARN please email medicinequality [at] wwarn [dot] org