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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 July 2005, 10:56 GMT 11:56 UK
Bad Medicine
The counterfeit drug industry is huge and the profits are vast. Some are harmless but others are lethal.

Olenka Frenkiel looking at drugs on a shelf
Bad Medicine
Tuesday, 12 July, 2005
2100 BST on BBC Two

It could be described as the perfect crime.

Fake drugs kill vulnerable people: the weak, the old, and the sick. And once consumed, the evidence is destroyed.

In 2003, four children died after undergoing cardiac surgery in a top teaching hospital in Nigeria.

The adrenalin drips they had been fed with contained fake drugs.

"Fake drugs are murder" says Dr Dora Akunyili, the dynamic regulator of Nigeria's Food and Drug Agency (Nafdac).

When Dora took the job at Nafdac in 2001, more than half of all drugs in Nigeria were counterfeits or substandard.

Some contained just chalk or flour. Others, only a fraction of the active ingredient, triggering drug resistant strains of malaria, tuberculosis and HIV: the world's biggest killers.


Bad Medicine was among the winners of the 65th Annual Peabody Awards, announced at a ceremony in New York City

Dora says her own sister - a diabetic - died of an infection after injecting fake insulin.

In her passionate bid to stop a lethal explosion of fakes, she has been shot at and had her offices burnt down; but she is not deterred.

Reporter Olenka Frenkiel follows Dora as she inspects street markets, challenges manufacturers and demands answers at an international conference in Paris.

"Eradication of counterfeit drugs should be treated as an international health emergency programme," she declares.

In the UK, counterfeits have been found in high street chemists, and a fake Diazepam and Viagra factory was recently discovered in North London.

All over the US, fake botox, heart disease and cancer drugs have found their way into hospitals and pharmacies; their death toll unknown.

Fake drugs could be in a pharmacy near you.

Bad Medicine was broadcast on Tuesday, 12 July, 2005 at 2100 BST on BBC Two.

Reporter: Olenka Frenkiel
Producer: Iain Overton
Executive Producer: Karen O'Connor

One woman's war with fake drugs
12 Jul 05 |  This World
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12 Jul 05 |  This World

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