The epidemic of falsified antimicrobial medicine

TRU Alumni tackles the serious and neglected threat of falsified medicine

While tackling falsified medicines hasn’t been a top priority of the international community, their use in third-world countries has resulted in a large number of deaths. (NIAID/Flickr)

Erin Slade, a TRU alumni whose years of background on global health, gave TRU students a call to action for living healthy and to go against falsified medicine as part of TRU’s Science Seminar Series.

The seminar, held on Nov. 1, gave the audience a good amount of information on varying topics from the types of careers in global health to general information regarding her thesis of falsified medicine.

According to Slade, falsified medicine is a serious, neglected threat to global health that could play a key role in the prevention of antimicrobial drug resistance.

Slade found a multitude of problems, which ranged from drug toxicity, untreated diseases due to doctors not having knowledge or training and an erosion of trust, where people who rather go home and not talk to professionals due to the issues of falsifying medicine and treatment failures.

Her conclusion was that despite dramatic health consequences, tackling falsifying medicines has not been a top priority and must be addressed due to its multi-billion dollar industry.

According to Slade, falsified medicine has huge ramifications. It receives double the amount of illegal funding compared to child slavery and is on par with cocaine sales, she said.

“It is hitting third world countries, with 65 per cent of drugs that were tested in Nigeria were considered false medicine,” she said. “As well, it has lead to deaths such as Kenya who lost 200 lives back in 2017 due to a company selling placebo drugs as opposed to real ones due to companies trying to save money.”

It has also hit home here in Canada where regulations weren’t consulted for sales over the internet.

“The regulations that hit the internet weren’t strong enough not too long ago and because of the ease that there was, a lot of falsely made medicine came into the Canadian market,” Slade said.

Slade also talked about how antimicrobial resistance is a huge global problem, which is why people are growing resistance to medicine leading to a huge number of deaths and even plagues.

At the end of her seminar, there was the call to action for the government to reform antimicrobial resistance policies to account for false medicines and to commit to accessible rapid detection technology and routinely undergo drug quality testing alongside susceptibility. However, her main message was to spread public awareness on the issue.