$370 million of fake medicine in Africa
Last spring, the World Customs Organization launched an operation to combat the trafficking of fake and/or illegal drugs in Africa. More than 113 million of illicit pharmaceutical products were seized in only 10 days.
This was the third such operation launched by the WCO, with a total of more than 750 million dosages of illegal drugs worth around $370 million intercepted overall. Efforts are currently being focused on Benin, Tanzania and Congo in particular.
The illegal drug market is huge in Africa, where the medicines sold in pharmacies are expensive and street-marketing is efficient. Furthermore, trafficking fines are small and prison terms are short.
Ninety percent of the counterfeit drugs sold on the black market in Africa come from India, and most are for very important treatments. The business is a very profitable one, with traffickers making up to $500,000 for every $1,000 invested.
The international community, especially the World Health Organization, is worried about this trend, which can result in the improper use of drugs or the ingestion of drugs that have not been properly manufactured.
In 2010, it was estimated that 700,000 people bought counterfeit products in Africa, mostly for treating malaria and tuberculosis.