The Global Pandemic of Falsified Medicines: Laboratory and Field Innovations and Policy Implications
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



Ensuring that artemisinin-containing antimalarials (ACAs) are of good quality is a key component of effective malaria treatment. There are concerns that a high proportion of ACAs are falsified or substandard, though estimates are rarely based on representative data. During a nationally representative survey in Tanzania, ACAs were purchased from private retail drug outlets, and the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) was measured. All 1,737 ACAs contained the labeled artemisinin derivative, with 4.1% being outside the 85–115% artemisinin API range defined as acceptable quality. World Health Organization (WHO) prequalified drugs had 0.1 times the odds of being poor quality compared with non-prequalified ACAs for the artemisinin component. When partner components of combination therapies were also considered, 12.1% were outside the acceptable API range, and WHO prequalified ACAs had 0.04 times the odds of being poor quality. Although the prevalence of poor quality ACAs was lower than reported elsewhere, the minority of samples found to be substandard is a cause for concern. Improvements in quality could be achieved by increasing the predominance of WHO prequalified products in the market. Continued monitoring of quality standards is essential.

[open-access] This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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  • Received : 29 Aug 2014
  • Accepted : 05 Jan 2015
  • Published online : 03 Jun 2015

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