The project focuses on falsified medicines – a growing health problem affecting both developed and developing countries. Falsified medicines range from mixtures of toxic substances to ineffective products. They may be adulterated with corn starch, heavy metals, brick powder, amphetamines, ink or wall colour. Some drugs look so similar to the genuine product that they deceive health professionals as well as patients. They can result in treatment failure and death. Society must deal with the consequences that medicines are not only tools to combat illness, but also medical products and pharmaceutical commodities. They go the way of all commodities – to the legal as well as to the illegal market.
The project examines how the falsifications are part of a global system and spread in various African and South African settings. The overall aim is threefold:
• Examining what socio-cultural mechanisms and medical processes make the market of falsified medicines work.
• Conduct sparse sampling to evaluate extend of falsified drugs in disease- and drug space the social-cultural model will have identified as high risk for falsification.
• Raising awareness and providing a basis for recommendations about new practices in health care, in non-governmental and legislative institutions.