When I first began interviewing our partner Living Goods’ patients in Uganda, I noticed a surprising trend. When I asked people what they liked most about Living Goods, the overwhelming response was, “Your drugs are real and affordable.”
Real? I thought. Why wouldn’t the drugs be real?
Since then, I've learned why. Counterfeit drugs are flooding East African markets, killing 100,000 people each year.
In Uganda, one out of three malaria drugs is actually fake.
If you’re a mom living in an urban slum and your child gets sick, here are some of the hurdles you face:
Medicine is scarce
It’s hard to find drugs. Technically, Uganda has a free health care system. Research shows that government health clinics are out of vital medicines 50% of the time. Government clinics are critically understocked, making it significantly more difficult for people to obtain life-saving medication.
Medicine is expensive
With clinics understocked, many people try to find drugs at private pharmacies. However, thanks to a fragmented chain of vendors, by the time medicine gets to a drug store it’s 260% more expensive than the recommended purchase price, even for the lowest priced generics. The people who have the least end up paying the most.
Medicine is fake
To top it all off, if you get your hands on the medicine you need, there’s a strong chance it could be fake. The global counterfeit drug trade is a 4 billion dollar industry, flooding in mostly from China.
Drug counterfeiters are very good at what they do - replicating authentic drug companies’ holograms and even including active ingredients to get counterfeit drugs past quality control. In Uganda, this makes it almost impossible to know if essential medicines will be effective.
So yes, this is why moms are excited that Living Goods products are “real and affordable.” Living Goods buys their medicines in bulk and manages their own supply chain. On average, their treatments cost only 50¢. This way, they can provide medicine that is accessible, affordable, and effective. #UgandaCare
Each day, they are taking steps to end the unnecessary deaths caused by the counterfeit drug trade.
If you’d like to learn more, here’s a great article we found: Counterfeit Drugs Raise Africa's Temperature