Operation Mamba III bolsters fight against counterfeit medicines in East Africa

26 August 2010

Operation Mamba III bolsters fight against counterfeit medicines in East Africa

Brussels, 26 August 2010

Press Release

A combined international operation across East Africa targeting counterfeit medical products and pharmaceutical crimes has resulted in the seizure of at least 10 tons of counterfeit andillicit medical products and more than 80 arrests of individuals suspected of involvement in the illegal manufacture, trafficking or sale of counterfeit and diverted medical products.

Involving Customs, police and drug regulatory authorities from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zanzibar, Operation Mamba III took place between July and August 2010. It was coordinated by INTERPOL and undertaken under the umbrella of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Medical Products Anti-Counterfeiting Taskforce (IMPACT).

The operation was fully supported by the World Customs Organization (WCO) and forensic assistance was provided by the laboratories of the Singaporean Health Science Authority. This was the third such operation in as many years aimed at curbing the importation, exportation, manufacture and distribution of counterfeit and diverted medical products in East Africa.

Using the resources of its Regional Intelligence Liaison Office (RILO) for East and Southern Africa, the WCO made CENcomm – its secure communication tool – available to all participating Customs administrations during the operation. CENcomm enables parties to an enforcement operation to share information and inteligence in a secure environment in real-time.

“This international partnership in the fight against crimes involving medicine and drugs is a recipe for continued success,” said WCO Secretary General, Kunio Mikuriya. “Translating this partnership into focused national cooperation on the ground strengthens our collective determination to crush established criminal networks and put an end to their harmful trade,” the Secretary General added.

Examples of some of the individual cases of suspected counterfeit drugs intercepted during the operation include 11634 Metakelfin antimalaria tablets, 3300 Celestamine antibacterial tablets, 1000 Duo-Cotecxin antimalaria tablets, 200 Ciprobay antibiotic tablets, 180 Betapyn headache tablets, 126 Postinor-2 oral emergency contraceptive tablets, and 80 Cialis erectile dysfunction tablets.

Other recorded offences involved medicines and drugs that were unregistered, unlawfully imported and stolen from government stores. Included among these were insulin, penicillin, anti-inflammatories, antimalarials, antibiotics, normal saline, cough and cold syrups, and dextrose.

Representatives of participating countries will meet next week to review the results of Operation Mamba III and to further harmonize the region’s approach to counterfeit and unregulated medicine.