Street Pharma


"Street Pharma" is a podcast series that aims to take a different and constructive look at the phenomenon of pharmaceutical trafficking in West Africa.

  • €18,800 Budget in Euros
  • 2020 Final release date
  • 3 Round winner
  • 2 Locations

Street Pharma

The twists and turns of the pharmaceutical system in Togo and Ghana

Pharmaceutical trafficking poses a serious problem in West Africa: it is almost exclusively presented in terms of the scandal of deadly fake drugs, and the fight against criminal traffickers. This is obviously a dramatic aspect. However, the speeches and programs to fight against falsified medicines systematically forget the practical situation of African citizens. Between shortages and counterfeit medications, they navigate every day from parallel markets to official pharmacies to find effective medicines. Even if they often come from smugglers, quality generic drugs can be found in large quantities and at low prices on the markets as well as in the pharmacies. Between effectiveness and danger, patients get lost.

Anthropologist Carine Baxerres refers to the subject of fake drugs as a "poor science", a subject that receives little scientific or journalistic investigation. This subject remains little covered in the French media from the angle of the circuits of these drugs and the distinction between counterfeiting, falsification and the informal market. This is the angle this project takes.

Investigating the subject of counterfeit drugs allows to nuance the current dominant approach, meaning to treat the phenomenon in an undifferentiated way, to get away from the stereotype according to which only Big Pharma branded drugs are of good quality. In addition, it provides the basis for thinking about the emergence of a model for manufacturing and supplying medicines specific to Africa to finally break with the chronic shortage situations that cause many deaths.


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