Row flares over global fight against fake medicine
In developing countries, the WHO estimates that more than 10 percent of medicine may be fake or substandard, with bogus malaria drugs a particular threat in parts of Asia and Africa.
But the danger is real in the rich world, too.
Earlier this year, fake vials of Roche's cancer drug Avastin were found in the United States, while a recent U.S. meningitis outbreak, due to contaminated steroid injections, shows the country is not immune to quality problems.
In the European Union, medicines are now the top illicit product seized at the border and authorities have found fake versions of drugs purporting to come from companies including Sanofi, Eli Lilly and AstraZeneca.
LAW TOUGHER ON TOBACCO THAN FAKE DRUGS
The need for action seems clear enough - but advancing the debate involves navigating some big divides.
India, whose large drugs industry produces cheap generic versions, is concerned that Western governments backed by Big Pharma are using the fight against fakes as a cover to restrict trade in unpatented medicines much needed by the world's poor.
Some health activists support New Delhi's charge that worries about counterfeit drugs are being hijacked by Big Pharma global pharmaceutical companies to protect their profits and patented products against legitimate generic competitors.
In east Africa, for example, international drug companies have taken advantage of anti-counterfeiting laws that are sometimes poorly drafted to curb sales of otherwise legitimate generics, threatening the availability of essential drugs.
India is particularly resistant to any role for pharmaceutical firms in
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