Judges' Special Recognition
"Malaria: blood,sweat, and tears"
Pharmacologist testing anti-malaria drugs
"A significant number of anti-malarials we tested failed. They are counterfeit or sub-standard. People taking these drugs are wasting their time and money. But more significantly, it will impair the future immune response, allowing the parasite to develop immunity, and in some cases it results in patient mortality.
But we are making some headway in counterfeit prevention".
It is estimated that counterfeit and sub-standard malaria drugs account for up to 20% of annual malaria deaths. They also encourage drug-resistance. Counterfeit drugs are likely corrupted or weakened versions of the originals, and often offer only partially treat the illness, or not at all. As a result, impoverished victims waste millions of dollars a year on ineffectual medication. Even worse, many die because the fake drugs just don't work. If they are partially effective, the result is that the malaria pathogen can develop immunity to the active ingredients in the drugs, evolving into a malaria strain that is more difficult or impossible to treat.
Currently, anywhere from 10 - 30 % or more of drugs sold in developing countries are counterfeit. In 2010 the counterfeit pharmaceutical racket will reap an estimated $75 billion US dollars. This is a problem that affects the entire world as people die and diseases mutate as a result of fraudulent medications.