An operation spanning 16 African countries and conducted by the World Customs Organization (WCO) in partnership with the Institute of Research against Counterfeit Medicines (IRACM) led to the seizure of more than 82 million doses of counterfeit medicines. The drugs seized included antimalarials, antibiotics, cough medicines, contraceptive pills, and fertility treatments, and were valued at around $40 million.
The operation was conducted simultaneously at 16 major seaports on the east and west coasts of Africa between July 11, 2012, and July 20, 2012. Customs officials seized more than 100 million counterfeit products of all categories. Of a total of 110 shipping containers inspected, 84 contained counterfeit or illegal products, with the largest shipments found in Angola, Togo, Cameroon, and Ghana. The majority of the shipments originated from South Asia, East Asia, and the Middle East.
According to a joint press release from IRACM and WCO, customs officers involved were trained by WCO, with the support of IRACM and experts from the pharmaceutical sector, to recognize the technical characteristics of various products that are subject to counterfeiting and to implement new detection methods. According to the release, the organizations expect to extend the operation to other continents in the coming months.