Falsified VITAMIN A (retinol) identified in WHO region of Africa

The World Health organization (WHO0 has raised alarm requesting increased vigilance in African countries likely to be affected by falsified VITAMIN A (retinol) capsules identified in Chad and reported to WHO in November 2020.

The WHO noted that increased vigilance should include hospitals, clinics, health centres, wholesalers, distributors, pharmacies and any other suppliers of medical products.

“All medical products must be obtained from authorized/licensed suppliers. The products’ authenticity and physical condition should be carefully checked. Seek advice from a healthcare professional in case of doubt.”

Table 1: Products subject of WHO Medical Product Alert N°1/2021

This WHO Medical Product Alert referred to two falsified VITAMIN A (retinol) capsules identified in Chad and reported to WHO in November 2020.

Accordng to the WHO, laboratory analysis of recovered samples identified that both products are severely degraded and underdosed – containing less than the stated active ingredient. Both falsified products also carry now-defunct logos – the outdated WHO Essential Drugs Programme logo and the outdated Micronutrient Initiative logo. Both falsified products were supplied at patient level and may still be in circulation in the region.

Vitamin A (retinol) is a micronutrient used for the prevention and treatment of vitamin A deficiency. The most severe effects of this deficiency are seen in young children. Deficiency of vitamin A is associated with significant morbidity and mortality from common childhood infections and is the world’s leading preventable cause of childhood blindness. Vitamin A deficiency also contributes to maternal mortality and other poor outcomes of pregnancy and lactation. Retinol is listed on the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines for Children.

“The public health threat of falsified vitamin A (retinol) particularly affects vulnerable children already suffering from vitamin A deficiency. It is important to detect and remove any falsified vitamin A (retinol) from circulation so as to prevent harm to patients.”

According to the World Health Organization, sham drugs are the world’s most lucrative counterfeit goods, with a global market worth roughly $200bn, and Africa accounts for around 42% of the world’s cases.

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