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14 February 2011

Ghana INTERPOL-supported operation leads to counterfeit medical products seizures

ACCRA, Ghana – An operation targeting pharmaceutical crime in Ghana, which included both training and operational support by INTERPOL has led to the seizure of thousands of illegal and fake medicines.

Operation Harmattan saw 50 officers from police, customs, health including the Food and Drug Board and the Bureau of Standards agencies carry out a series of raids in markets and pharmacies during the two-day operation (10-11 February) as part of the International Medical Products Anti-Counterfeiting Taskforce (IMPACT) supported by INTERPOL’s OASIS (Operational Assistance, Services and Infrastructure Support) Programme in Africa.

Among the seizures were antimalarials, antibiotics and herbal medicines and to date, 25 people have been prosecuted with a further seven due before the courts. Ahead of the operation, specialists from INTERPOL’s General Secretariat and the Medical Health Regulatory Authorities in the UK provided training to officers, supported by INTERPOL's Regional Bureau in Abidjan and the National Central Bureau in Accra.

The first of a series of planned interventions across West African, Operation Harmattan also saw the announcement by Ghanian authorities of the creation of a technical committee, bringing together involved agencies to ensure co-ordination in tackling counterfeit medical products and pharmaceutical crime.