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One third of antimalarial drugs sold in six African cities have failed quality tests, signalling the need to tighten post-market regulation and surveillance of drugs.
Researchers found that antimalarials in cities in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda failed the basic quality tests.
Their study also found that therapies such as artemisinin monotherapies — rejected by the WHO as substandard — remain prevalent in Africa. A third of the drugs tested in the study were monotherapies, and 42 per cent of them failed basic quality tests.
Substandard drugs accelerate drug resistance in malaria parasites, jeopardising future malaria treatment strategies, says Roger Bate, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and lead author of the study.
The researchers recommend that a fraction of the current global budget for malaria control should be put toward a decentralised network for quality control using technologies such as mini-labs and portable testing kits.
The study was published in PLoS ONE last week (6 May).
PLoS ONE doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0002132 (2008)