Selling fake painkillers, antibiotics, anti-malaria and anti-retroviral treatments is a thriving business in many African countries. Governments are trying to crack down the fake medicine industry that is causing thousands of deaths on the continent. According to estimates of the World Economic Forum, the fake medicine business in Africa earns tens of billions of dollars a year.
ENCA reports that World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that one out of 10 medicines in the world is fake. The figure can be as high as seven out of 10 in certain countries, especially in Africa. “The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene estimated in 2015”, says the report, “that 122,000 children under five died due to taking poor-quality antimalarials in sub-Saharan Africa, which, along with antibiotics as the two most in-demand, are the medicines most likely to be out-of-date or bad copies.”
Six months ago, Interpol seized 420 tonnes of counterfeit medicine in West Africa in a massive operation that involved about 1,000 police, customs and health officials in seven countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Togo. In Ivorian Coast, authorities burnt 40 tonnes of fake medicines in Adjame, the biggest street market of fake medicines in West Africa which accounts for 30 percent of medicine sales in Ivory Coast.
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