Counterfeit medicines: international news round-up

NewsprintA round-up of fake pharma news from around the world, including updates from Ukraine, Guatemala, France, Nigeria, Tanzania and Kenya.

Ukraine's deputy prime minister Kostiantyn Hryschenko has said the government intends to eliminate the production and distribution of counterfeit medicines, according to an Interfax news agency report. The Ukrainian authorities have blocked the entry of around 8m packs of fake and substandard drugs over the last three years, said Hryschenko at the start of a conference on the Council of Europe's Medicrime convention yesterday.  Ukraine became one of the first nations to ratify Medicrime last July.

The authorities in Guatemala have arrested 10 people suspected of producing and distributing counterfeit medicines to domestic pharmacies, as well as outlets in El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico, says AFP. Another 32 suspects are expected to be arrested shortly, according to Guatemala's Public Ministry Secretary General Mynor Melgar. The alleged leader of the group is named as Jesús García.

Customs officers in France seized 1.2 million doses of fake aspirin hidden in a shipment of tea from China at the port of Le Havre.  The haul is said to be the largest ever counterfeit drug shipment seized at the EU's borders, according to the country's Ministry for the Economy and Finance, which said total counterfeit medicine seizures in 2012 numbered just 100,000. The shipment was intercepted en route to a firm in the Balearic Islands - thought to be a front company - and were likely destined for distribution in the Iberian Peninsula, southern France and francophone Africa.

Nigeria's National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) says it intercepted 5m naira-worth (around $30,000) of packaging materials, thought to have been intended for the illegal manufacture of counterfeit codeine syrup products, at Murtala Mohammed International Airport. NAFDAC director general Paul Orhii told a press conference that counterfeiters seem to be shifting from large-scale import via seaports to smaller-scale import of drugs and components through airports, says the country's Leadership publication.

GlaxoSmithKline has extended its text message-based medicine verification service into Tanzania and Kenya, with the launch of a pilot project involving its Augmentin (amoxicillin and clavulanate) antibiotic and worming treatment Zentel (albendazole). GSK already offers SMS authentication of its Ampiclox (ampicillin plus cloxacillin) product in Nigeria.

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