A Customs enforcement operation spanning 16 African countries has led to the seizure of more than 82 million doses of illicit medicines.
The illegal medicines seized included antimalarial drugs, antibiotics, cough syrups, and contraceptive pills, according to the Ghana Business Bulletin. The value of the illegal hoard has been estimated at $40 million. The seizure was part of Operation VICE GRIPS 2 was organized by the World Customs Organization (WCO) in partnership with the Institute of Research against Counterfeit Medicines (IRACM).
Lloyds notes that the illegal drugs were found in the following countries: Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania and Togo.
Most of the drugs were being smuggled in maritime containers, and were being shipped into the African countries. The vast majority of shipments seized, as the Botswana Gazette indicates, originated from South and East Asia and the Middle East.
The seizure highlights the extent of the traffic in illicit medicines in Africa. The range of different products confiscated also demonstrates the potential dangers to consumer health and safety.