Share the article

Measure  –  Generate new data

Quality of antibiotics

The availability and use of poor quality antibiotics has many consequences for public health. Here, you can find resources to help determine the quality of antibiotics.

The widespread availability and indiscriminate use of poor quality antibiotics has serious consequences for public health, such as treatment failures, risk of resistance development, toxicity or other side effects. Poor quality of medicines has been linked to for example falsifying, poor quality control during manufacture and to improper storage. Learn more in UNDERSTAND: How did we end up here? – Problems related to quality of antibiotics.

Each cause for poor drug quality requires a different solution, but detecting the reason for poor drug quality is often challenging. The selected resources below provide examples and tools to determine the quality of antibiotics. See MEASURE – Access existing data – Quality of antibiotics, to find already existing data on the topic.

How can data on the quality of antibiotics be used?

Data on the quality of antibiotics can be used to inform stakeholders on the current situation and assist in developing interventions. Policy makers may use quality data to push for stronger regulations. Civil society organizations may be interested in conducting public health awareness campaigns to educate consumers about the possible presence of poor-quality medicines on the market and ways to inspect their medicine’s package. See RAISE AWARENESS: Civil society for inspiration.

Selected Resources

Resource Description
Guidelines on the conduct of surveys of the quality of medicines Annex 7 of the 50th report of the WHO Expert Committee on specifications for pharmaceutical preparations provides guidance and tools for designing surveys on the quality of medicines. Contains e.g. a sample collection form and an outline of a survey report.
Technologies for Detecting Falsified and Substandard Drugs in Low and Middle-Income Countries This literature review examines available technologies for quality testing. Bearing in mind the need for cost-effective solutions in resource-poor settings, it discusses suitability of individual technologies based on the need for electricity, need for sample preparation, need for reagents, portability, level of training required, and speed of analysis.
Guidelines for Field Surveys of the Quality of Medicines: A Proposal A proposed guideline targeting post-marketing quality surveillance. Authors propose methodologies to be used during sampling and assessing the market burden with poor quality medical products.
Survey of the quality of selected antimalarial medicines circulating in six countries of sub-Saharan Africa This study aimed to survey the quality of selected medicines based on a structured sampling strategy agreed between WHO and national authorities. Samples were screened with GPHF-Minilab and some were subsequently selected for full quality control.