The danger of substandard drugs in emerging markets: an assessment of basic product quality

Article Highlights

  • Tests show that legal but substandard drugs made in Africa and China have a noticeably higher failure rate

    Tweet This

  • While most drugs produced in emerging markets are of good quality, Indian and European generic drugs tend to be superior

    Tweet This

  • Companies in emerging markets that target their own population tend to be substandard

    Tweet This

The Danger of Substandard Drugs in Emerging Markets: An Assessment of Basic Product Quality

Download PDF
Demand for pharmaceuticals in emerging economies is increasing and pharmaceutical companies are supplying medications to new consumers. Many developing nations, including Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria have recently developed their own pharmaceutical production capabilities and the number of licensed producers in India and China has increased significantly.

In principle, expanded drug production is good for consumers since increased competition will cause prices to fall, thereby increasing drug access and patients' welfare. However, if the cheaper drugs are not bioequivalent (act in the same way in the body) to the approved innovator products which they are copying, this trend could cause significant harm to patients.

Most research on poor quality drugs has focused on counterfeit products or failed to draw a distinction between counterfeit products and legal substandard products (Bate et al., 2010b). It concludes that the burden of poor quality drugs is acute in African nations, but also extends in smaller quantities to most emerging markets. However, few studies have addressed the quality of the legitimate drugs sold in these markets. By removing counterfeit drugs, as far as is knowable, from the study sample and subjecting remaining samples to basic quality control tests, this study tentatively evaluates whether legally produced but substandard products are a threat to public health in emerging markets.

Roger Bate is the Legatum Fellow in Global Prosperity at AEI. Julissa Milligan is a research assistant at AEI.

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Roger
Bate

 

Julissa
Milligan

What's new on AEI

In year four of Dodd-Frank, over-regulation is getting old
image Halbig v. Burwell: A stunning rebuke of a lawless and reckless administration
image Beware all the retirement 'crisis' reports
image Cut people or change how they're paid
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 21
    MON
  • 22
    TUE
  • 23
    WED
  • 24
    THU
  • 25
    FRI
Monday, July 21, 2014 | 9:15 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Closing the gaps in health outcomes: Alternative paths forward

Please join us for a broader exploration of targeted interventions that provide real promise for reducing health disparities, limiting or delaying the onset of chronic health conditions, and improving the performance of the US health care system.

Monday, July 21, 2014 | 4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Comprehending comprehensive universities

Join us for a panel discussion that seeks to comprehend the comprehensives and to determine the role these schools play in the nation’s college completion agenda.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014 | 8:50 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Who governs the Internet? A conversation on securing the multistakeholder process

Please join AEI’s Center for Internet, Communications, and Technology Policy for a conference to address key steps we can take, as members of the global community, to maintain a free Internet.

Thursday, July 24, 2014 | 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Expanding opportunity in America: A conversation with House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan

Please join us as House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) unveils a new set of policy reforms aimed at reducing poverty and increasing upward mobility throughout America.

Event Registration is Closed
Thursday, July 24, 2014 | 6:00 p.m. – 7:15 p.m.
Is it time to end the Export-Import Bank?

We welcome you to join us at AEI as POLITICO’s Ben White moderates a lively debate between Tim Carney, one of the bank’s fiercest critics, and Tony Fratto, one of the agency’s staunchest defenders.

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.