STATE security organs and the International Police (INTERPOL) have conducted a massive operation to seize substandard and counterfeit drugs in the country as recent statistics show that 80 per cent of malaria patients die after consuming substandard and fake anti-malarial medication.
The Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI), Mr Robert Manumba, said that the campaign christened 'Operation Giboia' which was conducted in nine regions between October 1 and 3, have seized 273 different types of drugs traded illegally in the local market.
Apart from Tanzania, similar operations were also conducted in South Africa, Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland and Zambia as part of a campaign launched five years ago to apprehend and intercept the movement of substandard drugs in the region.
But according to DCI Manumba, the recent operation was a huge one showing rampant movement of illegal medicines in Dar es Salaam, Mwanza, Shinyanga, Mara, Geita, Mbeya, Arusha and Dodoma.
"During the operation we discovered two types of counterfeit medicines called Asdoxin manufactured by Astra Lifecare(India) Pvt Ltd of India and Penizin-V with particulars showing it was manufactured by Zenufa Laboratories of Tanzania," he said.
He said that an operation which involved the Police Force, the Intelligence Unit and the INTERPOL, Tanzania Food and Drug Authority (TFDA) in collaboration with other local authorities seized 76 types of expired drugs, 28 types of government drugs and 86 types of unregistered drugs.
Also in the list were 40 types of substandard drugs including anti-malarias and antibiotics while 41 types of drugs were already de-registered in the TFDA inventory list.
All the drugs were worth 49.6m/-. Nineteen other types feared counterfeit according to the DCI are still undergoing lab tests and their status will be communicated to the public as soon as lab results are out.
Following the outcome of the operation, the DCI said already 42 charges have been filed at the Police stations and investigations launched is seeking to bring suspects behind bars.
"If convicted apart from being jailed and fined, the culprits might have their business licences revoked, professional licences cancelled and all seized inferior drugs disposed of," he insisted.
Such operations, he said, have awakened the Police Force and intelligence organs on how they have to effectively investigate criminals behind the drug scams as evidence shows they are using advanced technologies and techniques.
He called on the public to continue extending maximum cooperation with security organs and relevant authorities, otherwise it will be extremely difficult to realise any meaningful impact in the battle against the crime.
On his part, the TFDA Director General, Mr HiitI Sillo, said that drugs increasingly traded illegally include ARVs, Anti-biotics, Viagra, anti-malarias and anti-pains. He called on people to be careful when buying them.