The Drug Industry’s Poison Pills

BOSTON – One does not need to spend a lifetime in the global health-care sector to appreciate that substandard or counterfeit drugs are a major public-health hazard. These bogus products have infiltrated pharmaceutical supply chains from Azerbaijan to Zambia, wrecking the most promising programs to control, manage, and eradicate deadly diseases. Yet little is being done to stop this criminal activity.

Growing up in Pakistan, I realized how vital it was for my mother, like any educated parent, to know which drugs and pharmacies could be trusted. Little has changed since then. Local pharmacists from Lahore to Lusaka continue to sell a variety of brands of the same drug at different prices; and shopkeepers are called upon to give a candid opinion of their benefits and shortcomings.