Assessing the Impact of Substandard and Falsified Antimalarials in Benin

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  • 1 Division of Practice Advancement and Clinical Education, UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina;
  • | 2 Duke Global Health Institute, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina;
  • | 3 Department of Maternal Child Health, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Substandard and falsified antimalarials contribute to the global malaria burden by increasing the risk of treatment failures, adverse events, unnecessary health expenditures, and avertable deaths, yet no study has examined this impact in western francophone Africa to date. In Benin, where malaria remains endemic and is the leading cause of mortality among children younger than 5 years, there is a lack of robust data to combat the issue effectively and inform policy decisions. We adapted the Substandard and Falsified Antimalarial Research Impact model to assess the health and economic impact of poor-quality antimalarials in this population. The model simulates population characteristics, malaria infection, care-seeking behavior, disease progression, treatment outcomes, and associated costs of malaria. We estimated approximately 1.8 million cases of malaria in Benin among children younger than 5 years, which cost $193 million (95% CI, $192–$193 million) in treatment costs and productivity losses annually. Substandard and falsified antimalarials were responsible for 11% (n = 693) of deaths and nearly $20.8 million in annual costs. Moreover, we found that replacing all antimalarials with quality-ensured artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs) could result in $29.6 million in cost savings and prevent 1,038 deaths per year. These results highlight the value of improving access to quality-ensured artemisinin combination therapies for malaria treatment and increasing care-seeking in Benin. Policymakers and key stakeholders should use these findings to advocate for increased access to quality-ensured antimalarials, inform policies and interventions to improve health-care access and quality, and reduce the burden of malaria.

Author Notes

Address correspondence to Sachiko Ozawa, Practice Advancement and Clinical Education, UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, CB#7574, Beard Hall 115H, Chapel Hill, NC 27599. E-mail: ozawa@unc.edu

Authors’ addresses: Vy Bui and Colleen R. Higgins, Division of Practice Advancement and Clinical Education, UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, E-mails: vybui@email.unc.edu and collhigg@unc.edu. Sarah Laing, Duke Global Health Institute, Duke University, Durham, NC, E-mail: sarah.laing@duke.edu. Sachiko Ozawa, Division of Practice Advancement and Clinical Education, UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, and Department of Maternal Child Health, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, E-mail: ozawa@unc.edu.

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