The Scourge of Counterfeit Medicines
La Vie des Idées
en ligne - en ligne p.
pharmacie, imposture, médicament
Since the beginning of the 2000s, the fight against counterfeit and illegal medicines has become an international cause, mobilizing the World Health Organization and the World Customs Organization. Numbers and harrowing facts are regularly cited in justification of the international agenda: one in 10 drugs in circulation in developing countries is apparently illegal, and customs intercepted 550 million doses of counterfeit medicines in 2013; these medicines have also caused many deaths, the most striking example being the 2500 deaths in Niger in 1995 after a fake vaccine was administered (pp. 7-10). In this context, the international fight that was organized from the 2000s to counter this scourge of “pharmaceutical fraud” appears not only perfectly justified, but even somewhat belated. How, then, can one explain the fact that NGOs, governments and activist movements have protested against this fight? Based on two ethnographic field works conducted in Kenya and India, and on an analysis of the press and of reports published by the World Health Organization, Mathieu Quet’s book highlights the controversies surrounding this “pharmaceutical fraud”, which involve public health, economic interests, the securing of quality medicines and the monitoring of their global circulation. (first paragraph)