Bad Medicine

In 2012-2013, cough syrup laced with the chemical levomethorphan killed and sickened people from Pakistan to Paraguay. But by the time the WHO sent out an alert, the tainted batch from India had reached 4 continents and was untraceable in some places.

The label “poor-quality medicine” encompasses a range of ills, from drugs harsh enough to kill those who take them, to antimicrobial drugs so weak that they threaten global health at large.

Antimicrobial drugs without enough active ingredient help disease-causing bugs develop resistance, spurring their spread worldwide. These drug-resistant microbes have already backpedaled progress against gonorrhea, TB and HIV.


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