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Health / Drugs : Interpol announces 10 tonnes of counterfeit medical products seized in Africa

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A vast police operation coordinated by Interpol in East Africa has led to the seizure of 10 tonnes of counterfeit medical products and more than 80 arrests, Interpol said Thursday.

Operation Mamba III targeted crimes in Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda under the umbrella of the World Health Organization’s International Medical Products Anti-Counterfeiting Taskforce (IMPACT).

“The two month-long operation saw some 300 premises checked or raided across the participating countries and investigations are still on-going following the seizure of counterfeit essential medicines such as vaccines, anti-malaria drugs and antibiotics,” said an Interpol statement. “Law enforcement agents also seized significant quantities of government medicines that were diverted to illegal re-sale markets,” it added.

“Operation Mamba III demonstrates that by working together collectively, countries can take concrete action on the ground to curb a crime that is still low-risk and high-profit for criminals involved while representing a very real danger to the general public.”

Interpol said “counterfeit and unregulated medical products (were) becoming increasingly prevalent, sophisticated and dangerous to the public worldwide, particularly in Africa”.

Representatives of the participating countries are to meet in Zanzibar September 1-2 “to review and draw on the results of Operation Mamba III, and to further harmonize the region’s approach” to counterfeit and unregulated medical products.

Lyon, France, Aug 26, 2010 (AFP)