Ending the Trade in Fake Sexual Enhancers – Monash Lens


Substandard medicine challenges affect all regions of the world to varying degrees, but in Asia it is thought to be worse, with around one in 10 medical products in low- and middle-income countries reported to be of insufficient quality.

In Malaysia, sexual enhancers make up the majority of substandard drugs, with over 1000 products found on the market.

Men are more likely to use substandard sexual enhancers, which is not surprising given that Malaysian men were, according to the country’s health minister, the highest users of Viagra (sildenafil) per capita. in the world.

This is when the drug was first introduced two decades ago. Although the prevalence of male sexual dysfunction in Malaysia is quite high (26.8-69%), it is still lower than that reported in Singapore (51.3-73%) or Hong Kong (63.6%). The largest drug seizure in Malaysia in 2007, worth MYR 14 million ($3.14 million), was of ‘Miagra’, a fake Viagra destined for the Malaysian and Thai markets.

Counterfeiting on this scale is not deterred by the legal system – the penalty for such an offense is a fine of only MYR 50,000 (about USD 11,000) or three years in prison (or both). Tougher penalties can help stem the problem.

Alarmingly, Sildenafil was also put in coffee sachets which were distributed nationwide. The coffee mix was given to “invigorated” drinkers beyond the usual stimulation provided by caffeine, but was later confiscated by the Malaysian Ministry of Health.

It’s a lesson in the risk of Malaysians looking for quick medical fixes. Many prefer to buy cheap drugs without considering their effectiveness or side effects. A culture of self-diagnosis, as well as self-prescription, further perpetuates the problem.

Patient education is key

A study of patient awareness of medicine in Malaysia found that up to 25% of respondents did not understand the information written on medicine packaging, while an even higher percentage (29%) did not. did not read the recommended storage conditions.

The latter is dangerous, since higher temperatures in tropical countries of Asia can contribute to the degradation of not only substandard drugs, but all drugs. Data from Thailand suggests that improper storage and handling contributed to 5% of substandard drugs.

Patient education should focus on the need to distinguish between good and bad sources of medication, supporting informed decision-making about reliable self-medication, as well as building trust in healthcare professionals . And yet, the number of educational and promotional activities carried out by the Ministry of Health remains low, even if it shows a positive trajectory.

Educational activities have been extended to schools and institutes of higher education. More pharmacists should be empowered to play a greater role in patient education.

Better oversight by regulatory bodies such as the Ministry of Health is needed to ensure that all products sold on the market are registered, bearing in mind that registration numbers can be falsified, used for other substandard products or be printed on counterfeit drugs.

One strategy is to incorporate a Meditag hologram on all pharmaceutical products, providing security features that can be easily monitored. Another important strategy is to tighten border import controls or have the Royal Malaysian Customs Department and the Ministry of International Trade and Industry crack down on the smuggling of counterfeit drugs from neighboring countries.

Widespread advertising and sales propagated on social media are areas where law enforcement should routinely and randomly monitor suspicious marketing activity. Although misspellings in such advertisements may reveal counterfeit drugs, substandard drugs are more difficult to recognize.

Normally, the likelihood of a substandard drug is higher when there is a failure of therapeutic response or in the presence of infrequent adverse events.

The public can do their part by reporting drugs advertised on suspicious websites, especially those that don’t display landline phone numbers or physical addresses.

As more and more people go online, the risk of substandard drug supply and distribution also increases. Import bans on drugs produced by certain manufacturers suspected of producing substandard drugs such as Ranbaxy should be imposed.

Raising public awareness of the problem would also be helpful. The World Health Organization had, as of November 2017, issued 20 global medical product alerts, as well as regional warnings with technical support in place for more than 100 substandard drug cases.

Eradicating or, at the very least, reducing the impact of substandard medicines is a global challenge requiring global cooperation.

Originally published under Creative Commons by 360info™.


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