Counterfeit medicines, some of them sold over the Internet, are swamping unregulated markets in developing nations with sometimes fatal results, the U.N. drug control watchdog said this morning.
The report states that some 25 to 50 percent of the medicines used in developing countries are fake.
According to a report published by the International Narcotics Control Board, providers of fake medicines range from makeshift village markets to Web sites.
The board warns that such providers expose patients to serious health risks by providing access to poorly or incorrectly labeled medicines that are ineffective, substandard and, in some cases, even lethal.
The board spotlighted dangers inherent in graft-ridden, weakly-regulated markets, where bogus medicines had proliferated, and the widespread and growing misuse of prescription and weight-loss drugs.
The annual report also said Iranians had become the world's highest per capita abusers of opiates as they straddled export corridors from lawless Afghanistan, source of more than 90 percent of the opium produced globally.
The report said the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime and WHO should help member states that have little financial means and are overwhelmed by traffickers able to evade or buy off poorly-paid and equipped police forces.