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The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy

Editor-in-Chief: Ludwig, Sandra / Schmitz, Hendrik

Ed. by Auriol, Emmanuelle / Barigozzi, Francesca / Brunner, Johann / Fleck, Robert / Mastrobuoni, Giovanni / Mendola, Mariapia / Requate, Till / de Vries, Frans / Wenzel, Tobias / Zulehner, Christine

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Volume 18, Issue 2


Volume 19 (2019)

Volume 6 (2006)

Volume 4 (2004)

Volume 2 (2002)

Volume 1 (2001)

Corruption and Medicine Quality in Latin America: A Pilot Study

Roger Bate
  • American Enterprise Institute, 1789 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036, United States of America
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Aparna Mathur
  • Corresponding author
  • American Enterprise Institute, 1789 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036, United States of America
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2018-02-13 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/bejeap-2017-0076


Fake and substandard medicines are a significant problem in developing nations, and a growing problem in developed ones too. There have been assessments of basic medicine quality from many countries and regions across the world but almost none in Central and South America. Over the past decade, as part of our research, we have collected over ten thousand samples of medicines from 22 cities in emerging markets, but the only one from the Latin region was Sao Paolo in Brazil. We have now rectified this gap, at least for one critical medicine, the broad spectrum antibiotic ciprofloxacin. Using original, self-collected data from ten countries in Latin America, we test whether the 687 Ciprofloxacin treatments pass the Global Pharma Health Fund e.V. Minilab® protocol to identify substandard or counterfeit medicines. In terms of quality, 93 percent of drugs were good quality. Within the drugs that failed the quality test, the majority were substandard rather than fake. About 26 % of the poor quality drugs were fake, with zero active pharmaceutical ingredient (API), while the rest were substandard, with less than 80 % API. In line with results from our earlier studies, we find that products that were locally registered, as well as those with SRA or WHO pre-qualification, were more likely to pass the test. A new finding in this paper is that corruption is a key predictor of poor quality drugs. Less corrupt countries had higher levels of passing drugs.

Keywords: drug quality; corruption; Latin America


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About the article

Published Online: 2018-02-13

The funding for data collection and testing was made by two main sources, Legatum Institute and Reason Foundation.

Citation Information: The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, Volume 18, Issue 2, 20170076, ISSN (Online) 1935-1682, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/bejeap-2017-0076.

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