Black market malaria medication could cause dramatic rise in disease's spread

Health officials in the Asia-Pacific region have issued a warning against black market malaria medication that they said could lead to a dramatic rise in the incidence of the mosquito-borne illness.

Professor Maxine Whittaker from the Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network recently said that a lack of regulation is assisting in the spread of the fake medication, according to

"Throughout the Pacific and in Papua New Guinea you have little trade stores and often they are the only people who sell anything and, again, often they may be linked or they may be purchasing from these counterfeit drug suppliers," Whittaker said, reports.

China recently closed several factories in the south of the country that produced the black market counterfeit drugs. Further investigations have revealed that more Chinese operations exist, as well as others in India and Nigeria.

Professor Rick Price of the Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin, Australia, fears that counterfeit drugs may fuel malaria's burgeoning resistance because they often contain too small a portion of the active anti-malarial ingredient.

"The major problem in South East Asia particularly is the manufacture of fake anti-malarial drugs which are a horrendous indictment on human greed," Price said, reports. "These are tablets which if taken by a child with malaria are potentially a death sentence."

Price said that the penetration of fake anti-malarial drugs into the Asia-Pacific market is potentially staggering.

"In the private sector, maybe 20 to 60 percent of the drugs sold across the counter in Asia in many parts are actually fake," Price said, according to