What is the real price of counterfeit drugs, and how can we stop the problem from spreading? Thousands die needlessly every year, and it’s getting worse. Technology is the answer to saving lives. From The Lucky Years.
Let me give you a prime example of losing in the Lucky Years amid great revolutions. Over the next decade, millions of people will achieve better health with breakthrough new medicines. But at the same time, millions more will also become victims of counterfeit drugs. Upwards of 40 percent of drugs in third world countries are fake, but even in the United States and Canada, doctors, pharmacies, and consumers have unknowingly purchased bad medicine due to weaknesses in the supply chain. It’s easier to counterfeit a drug than money; all you need is a pill presser, available today online for less than $1,000. The stakes are high when you look at human lives, and particularly so in areas of medicine where people are desperate. How many patients in Boston and Baton Rouge have died from counterfeit drugs? One of our most important anticancer drugs, bevacizumab (Avastin), was counterfeited in 2011 and sold to Americans who ended up losing several months of their lives.
We expend so much energy and brainpower to protect our bank accounts, credit cards, and other important things, yet we don’t do the same for drugs. We also lack proper safety measures in the production and distribution of food, hence the routine headlines about tainted meat and dairy, expensive recalls, and scary salmonella or listeria outbreaks that kill vulnerable people, young and old. We need to bring technology into the food and drug realms or we are going to be in trouble.