There is fresh alert on fake drugs following a global crackdown organised by INTERPOL which led to 156 arrests worldwide and N16.3 billion (£51.6) million of counterfeit medicines seized across 115 countries.

The International Criminal Police Organisation or INTERPOL is an intergovernmental body facilitating global police cooperation.

To address the menace, the National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) is canvassing the establishment of International Convention on Fake Drugs just as there are for tobacco and money counterfeiting that allow easy collaboration between countries to arrest perpetrators.

NAFDAC’ Director of Special Duties, Abubakar Jimoh, told The Guardian yesterday that the agency has also, with the help of anti-faking technologies such as Truscan and Text Messaging System reduced the incidence of fake drugs in the country from 64 per cent in 2008, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) study on Africa, to 6.4 per cent in 2011.

Jimoh said the most counterfeited medicines in Nigeria are the antimalarial and antibiotics unlike in the global crackdown where most of the drugs seized were harmful slimming pills, erectile dysfunction tablets, anaemia medication, narcolepsy remedies, unlicensed foreign medicines and fake condoms.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) of the United Kingdom (UK) disclosed on Thursday, last week, that fake drugs and unlicensed medication worth £15.8 million (N4.99 billion) have been seized as part of a global crackdown on counterfeit products.

The ‘Operation Pangea VIII’ initiative, coordinated through INTERPOL, concluded with a week of international raids between June 9 and 16, and resulted in 156 arrests worldwide.

The operation also targeted websites that were offering falsified, counterfeit and unlicensed medicines. Such sites were closed or suspended, their domain names or payment facilities removed.

According to the report published by DailyMailOnline, in the UK, MHRA enforcement officers, with assistance from local police, raided known addresses in connection with the illegal Internet supply of potentially harmful medicines.

It resulted in the domestic seizure of almost 6.2 million doses of falsified, counterfeit and unlicensed medicines, 15,000 of which were medical devices with a total value of £15.8 million (N4.99 billion).

Among the drugs seized were medications to treat: Epilepsy, asthma, acne, narcolepsy, breast cancer, cholesterol reduction, erectile dysfunction, analgesics, hair loss, weight loss, painkillers, fertility, prostate cancer, anxiety and insomnia, skin lightening and diabetes.

Others include: Premature ejaculation, tanning, pain management, anti-inflammatory, steroids, anti-viral, eye drops, bacterial infection, eczema, eyelash hair growth, depression, hormones, dental equipment, and fake condoms.

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