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Interpol seizes tons of illicit medicines

Johannesburg - More than 100 tons of illicit and counterfeit medication have been seized in several Southern African countries, the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) said on Thursday.

It said 181 people had been arrested or were under investigation after 550 raids and inspections in Angola, Malawi, Swaziland, Tanzania, and Zambia.

Illegal medicines found during a raid on a house near Pretoria. The growing trade in counterfeit medicines is causing international alarm. Credit: INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

The operation was conducted in market places, pharmacies, and clinics.

“The seized illicit and counterfeit medicines, both branded and generic, are estimated to be worth approximately US3.5 million (about R35 million),” Interpol said in a statement.

“Diverted and expired medical products were also identified.”

The seized products included illicit and counterfeit versions of antibiotics, birth control, anti-malarial and analgesic medication.

The operation, dubbed “Operation Giboia”, was co-ordinated by Interpol's medical product counterfeiting and pharmaceutical crime unit (MPCPC).

“The huge extent of pharmaceutical crime in Southern Africa, and the threat to public security and safety it represents to the region and the continent, has been exposed by Operation Giboia,” MPCPC head Aline Plancon said.

Sapa

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