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Medicine Quality Monitoring Globe

First global tool to track news reports of substandard and falsified medical products is live

31 March 2020

The problem of substandard and falsified (SF) medical products affects all countries but few regulatory authorities or pharmaceutical companies have policies of publicly releasing data.

As a first step in tracking this global issue, IDDO’s Medicine Quality Research Group, with the MORU Tropical Health Network  and supported by a grant from the Wellcome Trust, has today launched a new, free-to-use, online tool, the Medicine Quality Monitoring Globe, (MQM Globe) which maps SF news reports worldwide in real time. 

With the recent emergence of COVID-19 late, there has been a growing number of reports of falsified masks, diagnostic tests, medicines and vaccines, and in light of this, there has never been a more urgent need for a shared global tool to track SF medical products.

The MQM Globe maps real-time media reports on the quality of medical products across the world. Its database is continually updated and includes medicines, vaccines, biologics and diagnostics and now has a COVID-19 search function to include reports of COVID-19 related SF medical products, including masks, diagnostic tests, medicines and vaccines. Users can tailor their searches filtering by key words, time-periods, locations and language, with on-screen results available in English, Spanish, Mandarin and French. The search system was developed by HealthMap of Boston Children's Hospital

Professor Paul Newton, who leads the Research Group, said: “The Medicine Quality Monitoring Globe will prove a valuable resource to the many individuals, researchers and public health organisations working in this area. For the first time, users can freely access global reports of substandard and falsified medical products in one place to track what may be happening in their communities, their country and around the world. There are a growing number of reports of falsified masks, diagnostic tests, medicines and vaccines for COVID-19 infection and we fear that these will continue to increase.”

Dr Céline Caillet, Group Coordinator commented: “Assessing the scale of the problem globally with new tools like the Medicine Quality Monitoring Globe is a key first step. Little research has been done in this area and there is an urgent need for wider, multidisciplinary research to build the evidence base globally for informing interventions and policy to ensure that we all have access to good quality medical products.”

About the Medicine Quality Monitoring Globe

The MQM Globe holds data from July 2018 and tracks:

  • The quality of medicines/medical products, including vaccines, medical devices, traditional and herbal medicines, vitamins, weight loss medicines, nutritional supplement, veterinary medicines, blood products and psychoactive substances, if the quality of these products is suspected.
  • Recalls, seizures, diversions, thefts, degradation, adulteration or contamination of medicines, cases of patients suffering adverse effects/lack of efficacy after taking a medicine suspected to be substandard or falsified.
  • General discussion, development/marketing of a new system or technologies to identify or prevent poor quality medicines, and articles on new laws/regulations.

Poor quality medical products jeopardise national, regional and global attempts to improve access to effective health care because they lead to avoidable morbidity and mortality, waste financial resources, and contribute to drug resistance. The World Health Organization estimates that in low and middle-income countries, around 10% of medicines are of poor quality. However, the true extent of the problem is still unknown. There are important caveats when interpreting these data as the news reports in the Medicines Quality Monitoring Globe usually will not have scientific confirmation. Therefore, please interpret the information in the Globe with caution – they are warnings of problems that may need further investigation.

Substandard medical products result from errors, corruption, negligence, or poor practice in manufacturing, procurement, regulation, transportation, or storage. In contrast, falsified products result from criminal fraud. Although they have been traded for many centuries, in the last few decades the problem has grown due to the increased complexity of the global pharmaceutical economy and internet sales.

Find out more about the Medicine Quality Research Group’s work here.