1997: Gefälschte Malariamittel in Ostafrika

Counterfeit antimalarial pills manufactured under the hot sun of East Africa. Repackaged paracetamol tablets (right) claiming to be powerful antimalarial pills with a fixed-dose combination of sulfadoxine and pyrimethamine (left).

In 1997, malaria crept up the Kenyan highlands and the major brand of antimalarials ran out of stock. Due to panic buying and temporal shortage, ineffective fake antimalarials were able to infiltrate the slums of Nairobi. Unfortunately, the counterfeit product contained only paracetamol, a simple analgetic drug not stopping the spread of malaria in the body at all. Production took presumably place in backyard operations in or around Nairobi itself.

Genuine Metakelfin is used to treat acute malaria only. When taking fake versions without active ingredient, death comes within five days. Due to drug resistance, much more effective artemisinine-based combination products nowadays replace SP drug formulations. Consequently, this new generation of antimalarials is getting counterfeited, too.

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