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UN publication to help countries ensure quality of medicines

UN publication to help countries ensure quality of medicines

Concerned over the quality and safety of medicines, the United Nations health agency today released the latest edition of a publication that aims to help regulatory authorities around the world in detecting counterfeit and substandard drugs.

Poor quality medicines, besides having no therapeutic effect, can cause death or serious harm to health, the World Health Organization (WHO) said. “The consequences of substandard or counterfeit medicines are extremely serious and detrimental to all efforts to control disease and save lives,” Director-General Gro Brundtland stressed. “This is a critical aspect of the struggle for access to medicines, and a fundamental feature of WHO’s work on this issue.”

The fifth edition of the International Pharmacopoeia (IntPh) contains specifications for the content, purity and quality of active ingredients in pharmaceutical products as defined by international standards. The publication is part of a comprehensive programme to help regulatory authorities, health services and manufacturers to guarantee the quality of medicines, considering that an average of 10 to 20 per cent of medicines in developing country markets are substandard, WHO said.

The IntPh gives priority to drugs neglected by conventional pharmaceutical markets and those for illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and diseases that disproportionately affect developing countries.