Worldwide substandard and falsified drugs for treating pneumonia, malaria and other diseases are killing thousands of children.
"We're talking about 300,000 -- at least -- children who have died because of murder-by-alleged-medicines distributed by criminals," said Joel Breman, a co-author of the report and senior scientific adviser emeritus at the Fogarty International Centre of the US National Institutes of Health.
‘The number of falsified and substandard medical products is on the rise. ’
The World Health Organization (WHO) has defined three types of falsified and substandard medical products.
"Falsified medical products" deliberately misrepresent their identity, composition or source.
"Substandard medical products" are regulated drugs that somehow fail to meet quality standards or specifications -- for example, they have less than needed amounts of an active pharmaceutical ingredient.
"Unregistered or unlicensed medical products" are untested and unapproved drugs.
The number of falsified and substandard medical products is on the rise, according to Breman and his co-authors on the report.
In 2008, for example, Pfizer Global Security, the drugmaker's team working to counteract counterfeit drugs, identified 29 of its products in 75 countries as being falsified.
Just 10 years later, Pfizer found 95 fakes in 113 countries.
In 2009, few online pharmacies could be found, but just seven years later an estimated 35,000 such pharmacies were operating around the globe, CNN quoted Bremann as saying.
Over the past decade, academics and nonprofits have raised awareness of the issue, while the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Interpol and WHO have convened to address the problem of falsified and substandard drugs, he said.