Quality of antimalarials at the epicenter of antimalarial drug resistance: results from an overt and mystery client survey in Cambodia
Widespread availability of monotherapies and falsified antimalarials is thought to have contributed to the historical development of multidrug-resistant malaria in Cambodia. This study aimed to document the quality of artemisinin-containing antimalarials (ACAs) and to compare two methods of collecting antimalarials from drug outlets: through open surveyors and mystery clients (MCs). Few oral artemisinin-based monotherapies and no suspected falsified medicines were found. All 291 samples contained the stated active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) of which 69% were considered good quality by chemical analysis. Overall, medicine quality did not differ by collection method, although open surveyors were less likely to obtain oral artemisinin-based monotherapies than MCs. The results are an encouraging indication of the positive impact of the country's efforts to tackle falsified antimalarials and artemisinin-based monotherapies. However, poor-quality medicines remain an ongoing challenge that demands sustained political will and investment of human and financial resources.