Substandard and falsified medicines are a global health concern negatively affecting individuals, the public, the pharmaceutical industry and governments all over the world. This review aims to examine the global prevalence of substandard and falsified medicines, its impact on health and the health system, including socio-economic impacts and strategies for curbing this menace. A literature review of published articles between January 2000 and May 2020 was done with keywords “substandard”, “counterfeit”, and “falsified medicines”. Articles were sourced from PubMed, World Health Organization (WHO) databases and Google Scholar. There are reports of substandard and falsified medicines from all WHO Regions with noticeable prevalence in the African Region. These medicines have been reported to cause death, antimicrobial resistance, increase prevalence of diseases, and loss of confidence in the health system. Increased patients spending, loss of productivity, strain of limited health systems resources, and loss of government revenue are major socio-economic implications of substandard and falsified medicines. An increase in criminal sanctions, global harmonization of drug regulatory authorities, and appropriate education of healthcare professionals and patients on how to prevent, detect, and respond to reported cases of substandard and falsified medicines are strategies that can be implemented to curb the menace of these medicines. Registered pharmacists and pharmacy students play critical roles in addressing this global health issue.

Publication timeframe:
Volume Open
Journal Subjects:
Medicine, Clinical Medicine, Public Health, Pharmacy, other, Social Sciences, Sociology, Education