<p>The World Health Organization and others warn that substandard and falsified medicines harm health and waste money, especially in low- and middle-income countries. However, no country has measured the market-wide extent of the problem, and no standardized methods exist to estimate the prevalence of either substandard or falsified medicines. This is, in part, because the task seems overwhelming; medicine markets are huge and diverse, and testing medicines is expensive. Many countries do operate some form of postmarket surveillance of medicine, but their methods and goals differ. There is currently no clear guidance on which surveillance method is most appropriate to meet specific public health goals. In this viewpoint, we aimed to discuss the utility of both case finding and risk-based sentinel surveillance for substandard and falsified medicines, linking each to specific public health goals. We posit that choosing the system most appropriate to the goal, as well as implementing it with a clear understanding of the factors driving the production and sale of substandard and falsified medicines, will allow for surveillance resources to be concentrated most efficiently. We adapted principles used for disease outbreak responses to suggest a case-finding system that uses secondary data to flag poor-quality medicines, proposing risk-based indicators that differ for substandard and falsified medicines. This system potentially offers a cost-effective way of identifying “cases” for market withdrawal, enhanced oversight, or another immediate response. We further proposed a risk-based sentinel surveillance system that concentrates resources on measuring the prevalence of substandard and falsified medicines in the risk clusters where they are most likely to be found. The sentinel surveillance system provides base data for a transparent, spreadsheet-based model for estimating the national prevalence of substandard and falsified medicines. The methods we proposed are based on ongoing work in Indonesia, a large and diverse middle-income country currently aiming to achieve universal health coverage. Both the case finding and the sentinel surveillance system are designed to be adaptable to other resource-constrained settings.</p>

doi.org/10.2196/29309, hdl.handle.net/1765/136193
JMIR Public Health and Surveillance
Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management (ESHPM)

E (Elizabeth) Pisani, SA (Amalia) Hasnida, Mawaddati Rahmi, M (Maarten) Kok, Steven Harsono, & Yusi Anggriani. (2021). Substandard and falsified medicines. JMIR Public Health and Surveillance (Vol. 7). doi:10.2196/29309