WWARN Medicine Quality Group

Medicine Quality Scientific Group

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

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 death. These medicines may contain sub-therapeutic amounts of artemisinin derivatives, such as artesunate, but usually contain no malaria medication at all. Inadequate dosing has serious implications for worsening 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 Scientific Group is sharing expertise and collating information to increase understanding of the prevalence and distribution of poor-quality medicines around the world.

Latest news

The first-ever dedicated academic conference on Medicine Quality & Public Health took place in Oxford, United Kingdom, from 23 – 28 September 2018. It brought together people from a diversity of sectors working in this field, such as public health, national regulatory authorities, pharmacy, biomedical, chemistry, law, ethics, cultural and social sciences, the pharmaceutical industry, international organisations, NGOs, national procurement centres, and internet and pharmaceutical forensics. The Oxford statement was released shortly after the conference. A fuller statement will be published this year. The third Medicine Quality Course was hosted in Oxford in September 2018, bringing together staff and students – from public health, regulatory, pharmaceutical, biomedical, chemistry and legal disciplines – to learn and discuss together. The course provides evidence that can inform policy and build research capacity for the future – from chemical analysis innovation to legal analysis to mapping, epidemiology and public perceptions.

Goals of the group

  • Encourage discussion of poor quality medicine epidemiology, detection and prevention
  • Facilitate improvement in the quality of medicines that patients actually take
  • Facilitate discussion of sampling techniques and analytical methodologies, including the amendment of guidelines that control the quality of medicines used in clinical trials
  • Advocate for more investment in the regulation of medicine distribution and treatment adherence and interventions to improve medicine quality
  • WWARN Reference Materials scheme: increasing availability of validated reference materials to minimise bias arising from poor-quality reference standards
  • Proficiency testing programme: helping laboratories assess their ability to carry out drug analysis and resolve any potential problem areas, improving the quality of data output.

Visualising the information gaps

  • Antimalarial Quality Surveyor: visualises summaries of published reports of antimalarial medicine quality, displaying their geographical distribution across regions and over time. This tool is available in both French and English and provides country summaries.

New Initiatives

  • Medicine Sampling Procedures: we are working with the WHO to support the development of new guidelines on sampling procedures and reporting of medicine quality surveys to help improve the monitoring and post-market surveillance of medicine quality.  Release expected in 2015.
  • Medicine Quality Legal Surveyor: this Surveyor aims to map and summarise individual country legislation, including the definitions of poor quality medicines used, and highlight potential opportunities to strengthen national and international legislation.

WWARN would like to further develop new partnerships with organisations collecting data on antimalarial quality. Contact Professor Paul Newton to share your ideas and expertise, email aq [at] wwarn [dot] org.