Wednesday
October 4
2017

Bad medicine: the toxic fakes at the heart of an international criminal racket

Sometimes the vials are filled with dirty water. Occasionally they contain saline and a tiny amount of antibiotic, so as not to infect the site of the vaccination and draw attention to its true ingredients. But however good or bad the disguise, the fact is that these “vaccines” will actually have no effect at all.

The recent news that another batch of fake meningitis vaccine had been discovered in Niger is just the most recent incidence of a particularly dangerous and cruel criminal racket. As many as 1,500 cases have been reported to a surveillance database launched by the World Health Organization in 2013, and that’s probably an underestimate, says Mick Deats, head of the substandard and falsified medicines group at WHO.

The latest fake was discovered because the manufacturer listed on the packaging of vaccine is a well-regarded Brazilian pharmaceutical company, Bio-Manguinhos/Fiocruz. A pharmacist in Niger’s capital, Niamey, became suspicious of one batch because she didn’t recognise the packaging. She contacted the manufacturer in Brazil, which confirmed that it doesn’t manufacture this particular vaccine. It informed the WHO, which quickly sent out a worldwide alert.

Photo courtesy of psyberartist.

Source: The Guardian (link opens in a new window)

Categories
Health Care
Tags
global health, healthcare delivery, medicines, public health, vaccines, WHO