2 September 2010

East Africa: Board Impounds Counterfeit Drugs

Zanzibar — The Zanzibar Food, Drugs and Cosmetics Board and the International Police (Interpol) Tanzania branch have jointly impounded counterfeit drugs during a special operation targeting various outlets.

The special operation dubbed Mamba 111 covers all East African Community member countries namely Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda Burundi and Rwanda.

Hundreds of cartoons of counterfeit products, which endanger consumers' health, were impounded during the first operation since the board's inception.

About 50 outlets, including 24 pharmacies and 26 drug-dispensing shops were inspected in Unguja and Pemba.

The objective of the crackdown mainly was to establish if counterfeit drugs were at all circulating in the Zanzibar market.

Among the impounded drugs included those meant for the treatment of malaria, said the board registrar, Dr Burhani Othman Simai.

Besides health hazards arising from the sale of such drugs, the country was also incurring economic losses, the registrar said.

The crime was just as serious as money laundering was to the world, he stressed.

Dr Simai enumerated other impounded drugs as cosmetics, hormones, plastic surgery, anti-ageing, contraceptive and medicines for erectile dysfunctions.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) records, 10 percent of drugs circulating the world market are not genuine and that 25 per cent of all counterfeit goods are consumed in poor countries.

"One of the side effects of the usage of such fake drugs is increased deaths arising from decreased immunity," he said.

It was also revealed during the joint crackdown that some of the drugs displayed in the outlets were stolen from the public health facilities, according to Dr Simai.

"This proves that some unscrupulous officials have been stealing from the government stores," he said.

He explained that some of the dishonest officials were identified and that a legal action was awaiting them.

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