The rise of counterfeit pharmaceuticals


Counterfeit pharmaceuticals pose a threat that puts people’s lives at risk, helps to finance criminal groups and causes profound public health challenges in Africa. It directly undermines progress made towards the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – particularly SDG 3, with sub-target 3.8 specifying access ‘to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all’.

Counterfeit pharmaceuticals weaken the efforts of governments, drug companies and civil society to improve access to medication – particularly in developing countries. According to World Health Organization statistics, 42% of detected cases of substandard or falsified pharmaceuticals occurred in Africa. This leads to widespread loss of life. Between 64 000 and 158 000 otherwise avoidable deaths from malaria alone occur in sub-Saharan Africa every year. While the extent of the challenge is not fully understood, it is clear that the problem and its impact are severe.

This seminar marks the launch of a new ENACT policy brief titled The Rise of Counterfeit Pharmaceuticals in Africa. The event presents a timely opportunity for discussion on the nature, scale and impact of the problem in Africa, with a focus on West Africa.


 William Assanvo, ENACT Regional Organised Crime Observatory Coordinator – West Africa, ISS



Jacqueline Cochrane –

Photo © USAID / Flickr 

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