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Health alert: WHO warns of fake antibiotic on sale in Uganda

Counterfeit and substandard antibiotics can cause treatment failure that leads to increased mortality in humans (PHOTO/File)

KAMPALA – The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that adulterated versions of Augmentin, an antibiotic used to treat many infections, have been discovered in Uganda and Kenya.

WHO, in a statement, said the discovery is a second in a period of one year.

“This Medical Product Alert relates to confirmed falsified Augmentin (Amoxicillin trihydrate – Potassium clavulanate) found in Uganda and Kenya. It should be noted that this is the second WHO Medical Product Alert issued on falsified Augmentin in the African region. The first WHO Medical Product Alert N°2/2018 was issued on 2 March 2018,” the statement reads in part.

WHO said it was recently informed by the Uganda National Drug Authority that falsified Augmentin was found at patient level in Uganda having been discovered through routine post-marketing surveillance on the quality of medical products in the market.

Samples were sent for quality assurance laboratory testing and revealed none of the expected active ingredients.

The National Drug Authority on July 25 showed journalists in Kampala several substandard and counterfeit drugs that are being circulated in the market, including Augmentin. The other were Postinor 2 (Levonogestre) and Quinine Bisulphate.

The Kenya Pharmacy and Poisons Board confirmed that the same batch of falsified Augmentin had previously been found at patient level in Kenya.

Genuine amoxicillin + clavulanic acid is used to treat a range of bacterial infections and is listed on the WHO Essential Medicines List as an access group antibiotic. It is effective for treating pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, skin infections, and urinary tract infections. It comes in three forms, all of which are taken by mouth:  immediate-release tablet, extended-release tablet, and liquid suspension.

The WHO said the falsified drug found in Uganda and Kenya is very similar in packaging to the genuine drug sold by GlaxoSmithKline.

In India, AFDIL  had sought to sell a similar drug advertised and marketed under the business mark ‘Anglomentin’ / ‘Anglomentin Duo’.  GlaxoSmithKline sells its medicine trademarked as ‘Augmentin’ / ‘Augmentin Duo’.

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