Counterfeit drugs, including fake, substandard, adulterated or falsely labeled (‘misbranded’) medicines, have become a real and growing threat to global health. Increasingly sophisticated counterfeiting rings, often involving organized crime, are slipping their fakes into the legitimate drug supply around the world. The problem is especially serious in developing countries, where hundreds of thousands die from ineffective medicines, and millions more from the drug-resistant strains of pathogens such as malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis that have been promoted by counterfeits’ suboptimal dosing of antibiotics and anti-viral agents.
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