Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea: a New Territory for Fake Medicines

(Inter Press Service News Agency) – An article issued on September 30 relates the new arrival of fake pharmaceutical products in an area till now protected: Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. It proves the extension of the phenomenon and how the network of counterfeiters is well organized. A real need to alert public opinion of the lethal trade and its tragic consequences appears.

Located in North-East of Australia, Solomon Islands are constituted of 900 islands with 500,000 people. Malaria is one of the main disease in this area and approximately 40,000 people are infected every year. In neighboring Papua New Guinea the rate is as high as 179 per 1,000.

Five months ago fake medicines like anti-malarial doxycycline tablets had been bought over the counter at a city pharmacy. A testimony of a woman from Malaita Province is woeful. She had bought these tablets and she was told anti-malarial treatment which was of a different color than the genuine one. Her kidney functions began to fail and an acute internal blockage developed; symptoms she had never experienced before. She realized something was wrong and gave the tablet to another pharmacist who confirmed the drug was fake.

‘The extent of fraudulent pharmaceuticals in the Melanesian islands is unknown, but the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has reported that 47% of anti-malarial medicines tested more widely in the South East Asian region are fake’, said IPSNEWS. ‘Malaita is the most populous province in a nation where there are 0.21 doctors and 0.11 pharmacists per 1,000 people and where the majority live at subsistence level in villages with irregular transport services.’

John Tema, senior pharmacist in the ministry of health and medical services in Solomon Islands capital Honiara acknowledged that ‘our pharmacy division does not fully control drugs entering the country, especially in the private sector’, and that there was no drug registration. He claimed that ‘ties are being strengthened between pharmaceutical authorities, customs and police, but legislation needed to be updated and quality control improved’.

Read more:
The Medicines Are Fake, the Illnesses Real – By Catherine Wilson – Inter Press Service News Agency

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