FDA device will screen for fake medicines overseas

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. health officials are making a high-tech screening device available in Africa to help combat counterfeit malaria pills in hopes that the technology may eventually be used worldwide.

The Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday a U.S. developed scanner will be used in Ghana to screen for fake versions of two common malaria pills. If the effort is successful, the agency hopes to mass produce the device on an international scale.

More than a third of malaria-fighting pills used in Africa and Asia are either fake or bad quality, according to a study released last year. Rampant drug counterfeiting has undermined efforts to fight the mosquito-borne disease, which causes fever, chills and flu-like illness.

Malaria kills more than 660,000 people each year, more than 90 percent of them in Africa.

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