Corruption and Medicine Quality in Latin America: A Pilot Study

Fake and substandard medicines are a significant problem in developing nations, and a growing problem in developed ones too. There have been assessments of basic medicine quality from many countries and regions across the world but almost none in Central and South America. Using original, self-collected data from ten countries in Latin America, we test whether the samples of 518 Ciprofloxacin drugs pass the Global Pharma Health Fund e.V. MinilabĀ® protocol to identify substandard or counterfeit medicines. In terms of quality, 93 percent of drugs were good quality. Within the drugs that failed the quality test, the majority were substandard rather than fake. About 26.5% of the poor quality drugs were. In line with results from our earlier studies, we find that products that were locally registered, as well as those with SRA or WHO pre-qualification, were more likely to pass the test.

Corruption can play a large, negative role in the healthcare system, particularly adversely impacting those with very low incomes. Bribery of regulators and public officials can affect the procurement process for drugs and allow counterfeit producers to supply low quality drugs without facing the consequences. Our study finds that corruption is strongly correlated with poor quality drugs. Less corrupt countries on the other hand, had higher levels of passing drugs.

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