Growing up in Pakistan in the 1980s, Muhammad Zaman and his family always knew which pharmacy to trust when they got sick. Today, even the pharmacists don’t know whom to trust. Just last year, more than 200 people in Lahore died after contaminated cardiac medicines containing a toxic amount of an anti-malaria drug hit the city’s supply. More than a thousand got sick. The crisis of poor quality drugs is worst in the developing world, where regulatory oversight is weak and patients are desperate for affordable medicine. Consider this: The World Health Organization says that at least 10 percent to 30 percent of the pharmaceutical market in these countries is compromised. “Everybody in the developing world knows about this problem, but nobody ever does anything about it,” says Zaman, now a biomedical engineer at Boston University.
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