Home News Self-medicating, treatment accounts for thousands of deaths worldwide
There has been an estimated 700,000 deaths worldwide for malaria and tuberculosis over the past few years, and those have been attributed to counterfeit medicines. Through globalisation and the rise of the Internet, more and more persons have come to believe it is safe to purchase pharmaceuticals online.
However, this is far from the truth, says Jeremy Jobson, an Executive member of the pharmaceutical manufacturing giant AstraZenica, which is partnering with Guyana’s Analyst Food and Drug Department to help the country secure itself against the threat of falsified and substandard medicinal drugs.
“As far as pharmaceuticals are concerned, there are a lot of people out there selling prescription medicines illegally, and (those medicines) do not meet legal requirements. The estimated figure (of) deaths worldwide in this regard is a very large figure, and it could be more. The issue is that when someone dies, we do not know if it is because of the medicine they took, and that is why they die, or if it is because of the illness,” Jobson stated. He explained that there is no sure way of knowing what resulted in the deaths of ill persons who have used illegal medicines (illegally sold medicines). Some of these medications may have little active ingredients for illnesses, while some may have none. In some cases, other ingredients in those falsified or substandard drugs may do more harm than good to an ill person, he clarified.
Jobson said that one of the main reasons why the illegal trade of such medicines takes place is because “it is a lot easier” to do so while making a lot of money through selling small quantities of such drugs at high prices.
“It is a (low-risk, profitable) business for criminals,” he added.
In Guyana, the practice of self-medicating continues, as a number of persons who suffer from some form of illness continue to utilise herbal or “home-made” remedies when they are unwell, instead of seeking advice from medical practitioners.
Just last year, PAHO/WHO Resident Representative in Guyana, Dr William Adu-Krow, made the call for Guyanese to desist from such an unsafe practice, especially those suffering from malaria.
According to Dr Adu-Krow, merely purchasing or obtaining medicines from facilities that are not certified would most likely result in the medicinal drugs being completely useless, or not effective. In fact, it could exacerbate the condition of the sick person, he emphasised.
“Self-diagnosis and treatment is a very dangerous practice. It takes 18 to 25 years to develop one antibiotic, and in the last 18 years there has been no major breakthrough in terms of an antibiotics. The bugs are winning. We are abusing the system, we are abusing our knowledge. And assuming that we have a bug that does not respond to any of our known antibiotics; then what do we do?” ge asked.