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WHO: Coronavirus Pandemic Spikes Fake Drug Sales

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A World Health Organisation (WHO) logo is displayed at their office in Beijing (Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images)

Thursday, 09 April 2020 06:48 PM

Drug counterfeiters in Africa and around the globe are filling the gap left by a drug shortage brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a BBC News investigation.

A run on the anti-malarial drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat coronavirus has left those medicines in short supply. That shortage has helped to widen the black market of fake drugs throughout the world.

When the World Health Organization (WHO) first declared coronavirus a pandemic in March, Interpol arrested 121 people in 90 countries over a seven-day period. The busts netted the international enforcement agency deadly pharmaceuticals valued at $14 million.

"The illicit trade in such counterfeit medical items during a public health crisis, shows a total disregard for people's lives," Interpol's Secretary General Jurgen Stock, told BBC News.

The WHO reports that within the larger falsified medicines market, many of the drugs are contaminated, out-of-date or without any active ingredient. That market is valued at $30 billion.

"Best case scenario they [fake medicines] probably won't treat the disease for which they were intended", Pernette Bourdillion Esteve, working with the WHO team that deals with falsified medical products, told BBC News. "But worst-case scenario they'll actively cause harm, because they might be contaminated with something toxic."

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Drug counterfeiters in Africa and around the globe are filling the gap left by a drug shortage brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a BBC News investigation.A run on the anti-malarial drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat coronavirus has left...
who, Coronavirus, fakedrugs
Thursday, 09 April 2020 06:48 PM
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