Why are fake medicines still a problem in Southeast Asia?

Is it real of fake medicine?

The problem of fake medicines is far from being solved in Asia. The Pharmaceutical Security Institute reported that 1,100 “incidents” involving counterfeit and illegal pharmaceuticals were reported in Asia in 2015. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime has also revealed that Asia has the largest share of the global trade in illegal and fake medicines.

So, why does this problem persist and what solutions exist today?

Failure to monitor the supply chain keeps fake medicines on the market

When supply chain security is weak, it becomes increasingly difficult to trust that patients are being prescribed real medications.

Recent crackdowns on counterfeit drug operations in China and India has forced suppliers to move to less regulated countries in Southeast Asia. This demonstrates how inadequate regulatory supervision of pharmaceuticals encourages the sale of fake medicines. Indeed, the World Health Organization (WHO) claims that there has been an “under-investment in supply chain systems and regulatory systems” for pharmaceuticals in the Southeast Asia region. 

mClinica’s SnapRx provides a solution to this problem by allowing pharmacists to easily digitize prescriptions, which permits Ministries of Health to monitor pharmacies thereby providing greater levels of supply chain visibility and security. With SnapRx, pharmacists can build a national medicine information system in a matter of months. In fact, in June 2018, the Philippines FDA mandated that all pharmacies in the country use SnapRx as a way to monitor prescription data.

Patients face challenges accessing authentic medication

According to the WHO, approximately one million people around the world are killed by expired or fake medicines each year. Many of those individuals are rural patients who cannot access official medical services. When faced with barriers to access, patients may also turn to unregulated websites that sell low-quality, expired, or fake medicines.

Clearly, improving access to medication, particularly in rural areas, is crucial for preventing the public health disasters brought on by the use of counterfeit drugs. mClinica strives to assist pharmacy professionals in underserved areas: 34% of mClinica’s users work in rural communities, and utilize SwipeRx, SnapRx, and Connect mobile apps to boost efficiency and compliance in their pharmacies.

Ultimately, the problem of expired medicines in Southeast Asia is partly due to incompetent regulatory supervision of pharmaceuticals and poor access to medication. mClinica’s platform helps to solve these issues by empowering pharmacists to participate in a a digital, accessible, and safe future of medicine in Southeast Asia.