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Nigeria is one of the few countries seriously affected by counterfeit drugs to have actively combated them. As part of this effort its regulatory agency, NAFDAC, has deployed handheld spectrometers to identify fake drugs in the market. In this Outlook, we analyze anti-malarial drug samples procured randomly from pharmacies in the largest city in Nigeria, the port of Lagos prior to and after the spectrometers were deployed. There is a statistically significant drop in the number of drugs failing quality control tests after the spectrometers were introduced, and a noticeable disparity in price between those passing and those failing tests as well. While it is not likely that the deployment of the spectrometers is the only reason for the improvement in drug quality, and the segmentation of the market, it is surely a major factor.
Roger Bate is the Legatum Fellow in Global Prosperity at AEI. Aparna Mathur is a resident scholar at AEI.