Winner 2005

This World: Bad Medicine


Bad Medicine focuses on a growing international problem—counterfeit drugs—and one woman’s campaign to stop them. Dr. Dora Akunyili, head of Nigeria’s National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), has fought to eradicate fake drugs in her own country. When she started in 2001, more than half of the drugs sold in the vast unregulated markets in Nigeria were fake or substandard. These drugs kill by stealth—by failing to cure, and by creating drug resistance in killer diseases. Battling corruption and indifference both in Nigeria and abroad, Dr. Akunyili has become an agent of change in the pharmaceutical industry. Her opposition to these illegal practices continues at great personal risk: She has been shot and her family threatened, forcing her children into hiding. Bad Medicine, executive produced by Karen O’Connor, documents Dr. Akunyili’s heroic efforts to effect change and to institute regulation of drugs entering Nigeria. BBC reporter Olenka Frenkiel and producer/director Iain Overton follow Dr. Akunyili on the trail of bogus drugs. The journey leads them to India and China, where the majority of the world’s counterfeit medicines are manufactured. Their investigation forced a Nigerian government probe into the problem of fake pharmaceuticals and a major change in the method of drug procurement at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, where fake adrenalin caused the deaths of four small children. The Nigerian government has opened a dialogue with NAFDAC that has led to the near-eradication of counterfeits in Nigerian government hospitals. For shedding light on an international health emergency and one woman’s brave crusade, a Peabody Award goes to Bad Medicine.


Executive Producer: Karen O’Connor. Producer: Iain Overton. Reporter: Olenka Frenkiel.