Book chapter highlights issues of poor-quality medical products during the global pandemic

IDDO’s Medicine Quality Research Group (MQRG) have written a chapter in a new book which examines the global issue of substandard and falsified medical products. 

Book cover Medicine Across Borders

The book, called Medicine Across Borders: Exploration of Grey Zones, contains insights from academics across social and medical sciences on improving safe medicine access.

The MQRG team, including Kerlijn Van Assche, Dr Céline Caillet, Professor Paul Newton and Dr Inthaphavanh Kitignavong wrote a chapter focusing on the distribution of poor-quality medical products during the COVID-19 pandemic and their public health impact.

The team found at the time there was a surge in poor-quality Covid-19 related medical products circulating around the world including substandard and falsified medicines, diagnostics, personal protective equipment, sanitisers and vaccines. Throughout the pandemic they were able to utilise the Medicine Quality Monitoring Globe, an online interactive mapping tool, to collate information on these products and publish regular reports.

The chapter authors said: “These poor-quality products posed significant risks to public health, eroding trust in healthcare systems, causing economic losses, and compromising vaccination coverage.

“To better prepare for future pandemics, a comprehensive legal and regulatory framework that harmonises national and international laws to combat poor-quality medical products effectively is needed. Furthermore, better information sharing is crucial. The establishment of living global databases that provide real-time information on medical products availability, providers and quality issues identified are fundamental.

“The lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic offer opportunities for more effective pharmaceutical policies to improve public health during and between pandemics. Collaborative efforts between governments, international organizations, the private sector, and civil society are vital to ensure access to high-quality medical products for all.”

The book ‘Medicine Across Borders: Exploration of Grey Zones’ is edited by Susanne Lundin, Rui Liu, Anja Smith, Elmi Muller. It takes an international perspective, examining the issue of substandard and falsified medical products cross nationally. Falsified and poor-quality medicines are prevalent in low- and middle-income countries, but this book also includes research from high-income countries arguing that they too have vulnerabilities, and emphasizing the need for vigilance even in well-resourced and well-regulated regimes.

The book is available from February 2024. You can access the e-book via the relevant e-book apps on the following three sites:



This project has been funded by Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Studies, South Africa, published by African Sun Media.


** About SF medical products

Substandard medical products result from errors and negligence during manufacture, transportation or storage. In contrast, falsified products result from criminal fraud. Although they have been traded for many centuries, in the last few decades the problem seems to have grown, partly because of the increased complexity of the global pharmaceutical economy and internet sales.