The Behavioral and Educational Strategies for Avoiding Falsified Medicine Exposure—BESAFE—project aims to address this pressing issue with research and awareness campaigns. Led by a team of public health practitioners at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the project is undertaking a global survey of healthcare providers, to gauge their experience dealing with patients’ exposure to counterfeit and fake medicine. The survey is also gathering information about healthcare providers’ understanding of patients’ reasons for purchasing what they think are legitimate medications from online pharmacies.

The World Health Organization estimates that 10% of drugs globally are likely to be counterfeit or fake. The majority of counterfeit or fake drugs are purchased from online pharmacies. The counterfeit/fake drug problem is particularly dire in low- and middle-income countries.

Up to 1% of medicines available in high-income countries and 10% of drugs globally are likely to be counterfeit, according to the WHO.

Counterfeit pneumonia drugs cause an estimated 72,000 and 169,000 child deaths annually, and fake anti-malarial drugs cause an estimated 116,000 deaths annually, according to the WHO.

Worldwide sales of counterfeit drugs increased from $3.5 billion per year in 2005 to an estimated $200 to $432 billion in recent years, according to the WHO.

BESAFE plans to publish its findings and develop awareness campaigns around them.

BESAFE is forging collaborations between public health researchers, drug manufacturers, policymakers, and public health program implementers to stop counterfeit medicine.

The BESAFE team includes faculty in the Bloomberg School’s Department of Population, Family, and Health and the Department of International Health.

The project is supported with funding from Pfizer Inc.

Pfizer Inc. is not responsible for the content of the BESAFE website.