Opinion: As global markets for generic drugs fail, poor people pay the price

In some countries, suspicion about the quality of unfamiliar "no-name" pills prompts residents to choose brand-name drugs, usually at premium prices.
A pharmacist searches for drugs in a pharmacy in Lagos, Nigeria. Source: PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images

Healthy competition from generic drugs is often held up as a “cure” for high drug prices — a shared concern across rich and developing countries alike. For many low- and middle-income countries, however, a new report from the Center for Global Development that we co-authored shows that global markets for generic medicines are failing, leaving the poorest patients without safe and affordable essential medicines.

The first point of failure is drug quality. In wealthy countries, residents can usually trust that all drugs on pharmacy shelves are safe, authentic, and potent. Most

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