12 Nov 2018

The rise of counterfeit pharmaceuticals in Africa

The growing phenomenon of counterfeit medicines in Africa puts people’s lives at risk and causes profound public health challenges.

Sustainable Development Goal 3 (SDG 3) places significant emphasis on populations’ health, and sub-target 3.8 specifies access ‘to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all’. Yet, remarkably missing from the discourse around achieving this goal is the need to address the growing phenomenon of counterfeit medicines, which disproportionately affects developing countries. Counterfeit medicines put people’s lives at risk, finance criminal groups and cause profound public health challenges. The full scale of the challenge in Africa is not fully understood, but research suggests that the problem and its impact are severe. If the continent is to make headway in achieving SDG 3, the issue of counterfeit medicines must move higher up on policy agendas. Experience elsewhere suggests that there would be scope for significant positive results.

About the authors

Robin Cartwright is an executive director at UK Government Investments within HM Treasury; a director at Social Finance, a non-profit social investment organisation; and a senior fellow at the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime. Before joining the non-profit sector, Robin was a partner for 15 years in the Global Strategy Team of global business adviser KPMG, where he worked on evaluating major merger and acquisition transactions and built a capability to measure and counter illegal trade. He began his career in intelligence and security in the UK Ministry of Defence.

Ana Baric is a writer, researcher and anti-corruption advocate. She is currently the policy coordinator for the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Anti-Corruption in the UK and was formerly a reporter for the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project in Sarajevo and Thomson Reuters in London. Ana is a research assistant at the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime.

Photo © emuck – Adobe Stock

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