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16 December 2013

Addis Ababa declaration supports fight against fake medicines across Africa

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – The First African regional conference on pharmaceutical crime concluded with the publication of the Addis Ababa Declaration which recognizes the region’s commitment to strengthening the fight against counterfeit medical products and other pharmaceutical crimes.

The three-day conference (10 – 12 December) brought together more than 80 representatives of law enforcement agencies and drug regulatory authorities from 20 African countries, as well as experts from international organizations and the private sector.

Addressing the meeting,  Ethiopian Minister of Federal Affairs, Shiferaw Teklemariam said: “The global illicit trade in medicines threatens the integrity of health systems and INTERPOL has an important role to play in combating pharmaceutical crime.”

In addition to sharing expertise in combating pharmaceutical crime, participants also took part in workshops to discuss regional and other issues including tackling the illicit sale of medicines, the role of public authorities in preventing the use of counterfeit drugs and the need for inter-agency cooperation between health agencies, law enforcement investigations and prosecutors.

New and emerging trends were also outlined to the conference, including the illegal trafficking of Tramadol.

Delegates were also updated on Operation Giboia (1-3 October), the largest INTERPOL operation to date against pharmaceutical crime conducted across Southern Africa which resulted in the seizure of almost 100 tonnes of illicit and counterfeit medicines and the identification of 181 suspects.

More than 900 officers from the five participating countries ‒ Angola, Malawi, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zambia ‒ took part in around 550 coordinated raids and inspections, recovering illicit and counterfeit medicines worth around USD 3.5 million.

With Africa one of the worst affected regions in the world by fake medicines, both branded and generic, the conference also adopted a series of recommendations including; encouraging the implementation of appropriate legislation, increased training in detecting counterfeit medicines and regular cross-border operations coordinated or supported by INTERPOL.

Organized by INTERPOL, the First African Regional Conference was supported by the Government of Ethiopia, and the International Institute of Research against Counterfeit Medicines (IRACM).