BEIJING, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) -- An investigative report carried by the People's Daily, the flagship newspaper of the Communist Party of China, on Wednesday called for joint efforts by China and Africa to eradicate the circulation of fake drugs.
The newspaper refuted recent claims that China is exporting fake anti-malaria drugs to Africa.
However, the newspaper's investigation showed that there indeed is rampant circulation of fake drugs in such African countries as Tanzania.
Severe shortages of medicines and general poverty among its people who cannot afford expensive drugs have made Tanzania a lucrative market for merchants illegally importing or manufacturing fake drugs for sale, according to local drug authorities.
Ugullum, acting chief of Tanzania's food and drug authority, said that 20 percent of drugs on the Tanzanian market are fake, despite strict approval procedures and inspections.
Most of these drugs came from counterfeiters, rogue dealers or smugglers both in and out of Africa, according to the official.
Public hospitals conduct stringent checks on their drug stocks, but many private clinics and pharmacies simply import cheap, inferior or even fake drugs, such as anti-malaria medicine.
Cao Gang, vice dean of the China Chamber of Commerce of Medicines & Health Products Importers & Exporters, said some fake drugs contain insufficient ingredients, some steal other companies' brand, while non-medical products are often sold for medical purposes, and others are "purely sugar or salt pills."
China's anti-malaria drugs such as Artemisinin have won a good reputation in Africa for their effectiveness, so they have become targets for counterfeiting producers, the newspaper article said.
Another problem is that improper use and storage reduced drugs' effect. He Wenping, dean of the Africa Study Department of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a government think-tank, said anti-malaria drugs must be kept in proper humidity and temperature, conditions which cannot be met in some African countries.
Drug tolerance may also occur if patients do not follow treatment procedures, the newspaper said, adding that patients in Africa often struggle to access enough drugs in time due to poor supply in some clinics.
China is stepping up efforts to help Africa to cope with the prevalence of fake drugs by installing recognition and tracing technology on drugs.
Meanwhile, Chinese pharmaceutical firms have established partnerships with African government and drug distributors, which makes it easy to trace imported drugs.
Anti-counterfeit labels are sealed on each drug package, making counterfeiting difficult, according to the Kunming Pharmaceutical Company based in southwest China.
Bilateral cooperation should be strengthened to combat counterfeiting, recommended Cao Gang of the China Chamber of Commerce of Medicines & Health Products Importers & Exporters.
Cao said China's government should support pharmaceutical companies to acquire international authentication in order to enhance recognition of Chinese brands.