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- Medicine Information and Evidence for Policy > Medicines Policy
(2003; 20 pages) [French] [Spanish]
Fighting poor-quality drugs
Medicines to improve the quality of life of people with HIV/AIDS, to cure tuberculosis (TB) and to fight malaria are needed more than ever before. Increased financial commitment to supplying those medicines means that the resources for procuring these medicines are more readily available. But impacts will only be seen at country level if sufficient quantities of medicines of good quality can be procured and distributed.
Systematic procurement can both speed up medicines distribution and help maximize treatment outcomes - as well as optimize use of resources. WHO launched a project in 2001 to create unified standards for performing inspections at suppliers, and assessing regulatory information about product quality, before pharmaceuticals are sourced. In short, it created a Model Quality Assurance System. The vastly enhanced rate of "pre-qualification" now possible with this system has speeded up adjudication and contract award, and hence access to medicines. It has also helped to eliminate or vastly reduce the risk of sourcing sub-standard, counterfeit and/or contaminated medicines.
The initial focus of the project was on medicines for treating HIV/AIDS (but it has since been expanded to cover anti-TB medicines and antimalarials). By the end of 2002, 69 products, for treating HIV/AIDS, had been pre-qualified. Just as importantly:
• developing country capacity to produce good-quality antiretro-virals (ARVs) had been increased
• developing country regulatory capacity to assess ARVs had been strengthened
• international cooperation on medicines quality had been enhanced.