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Why we are losing the war on bugs

Fake, or substandard medicine—some peddled by criminal gangs—is a big but hidden cause of antibiotic resistance

By Elizabeth Pisani   February 2016

Adult Intensive care ward at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, Ho Chi Minh City, ©Chau Doan/Getty Images

In the infectious disease wards of Ho Chi Minh City’s main hospital for tropical illnesses, patients are arranged behind plate-glass windows like mannequins in a department store. Those that are conscious stare blankly through the glass that separates them and their frightening pathogens—cryptococcal meningitis, perhaps, or septicaemia—from the efficient hum of nurses and orderlies on the…

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