Pharma crime: news in brief

Nigeria’s tramadol scourge, China’s fentanyl crackdown, Ghana’s border battle, and pharma crimes in Mexico and Bangladesh.

Nigeria seizes massive unregistered tramadol haul

Nigeria’s National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) says it has seized a massive six billion illicit tramadol tablets worth 193bn naira ($530m) in the last year, along with more than 300,000 unregistered pharma packs. The scale of the seizures are an indication of the sheer scale of illicit pharma activities in Nigeria, and reflect the return of NAFDAC officers to the country’s ports last May after a seven year absence, says a report. Prof Mojisola Adeyeye, NAFDAC’s director-general, said the agency is working to increase Nigeria’s pharma production to reduce its reliance on imported drugs and upgrade testing laboratories to help identify falsified and substandard drugs.

Chinese criminals ‘bypassing fentanyl controls’

Criminals in China are making new variants of fentanyl, a drug that often finds its way into counterfeit copies of opioid analgesics sold on the street, that can bypass the checks usually deployed by customs and don’t appear on lists of controlled substances, according to an article in the South China Morning Post. The activity was discovered as part of a crackdown on illicit fentanyl exports by the Chinese authorities that resulted in 21 people pleading guilty to trading in illegal narcotics.

Ghana unveils plan to stop falsified medicines at its borders

Ghana’s Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has revealed it plans to establish ‘mini laboratories’ at Ghana’s borders to ensure an easy assessment of the quality of regulated products imported into the country. Deputy Minister of Health Tina Mensah said the lab will screen medicines and other products coming into the country, according to Like Nigeria (see above), Ghana has been hit hard by a massive influx of illicit tramadol that is placing huge pressure on already stretched health services.

Mexican authorities recover stolen medications

Mexican authorities in Tecamachalco, Puebla, have recovered hundreds of stolen medications that were left abandoned at a property by suspected thieves who likely stole the shipment from a cargo truck, according to a BSi report cited by the Pharmaceutical Cargo Security Coalition (PCSC). Officials previously reported that thieves had hijacked a vehicle carrying a shipment of a drug for heartburn – reported to be manufactured by Laboratorios Solfran – on the Puebla-Orizaba Highway several hours earlier. The shipment was found dumped on the side of the road. BSi’s threat rating for cargo theft in Mexico is ‘severe’.

Fake drugs destroyed in Bangladesh

Illegal, adulterated and counterfeit drugs worth around $38,000 have been destroyed after being uncovered at a warehouse in Barishal City, Bangladesh, on the orders of a district court, according to The court also fined five pharmaceutical stores operating in the market a total of Tk 12,000 ($143) for various violations, it says. The penalty seems light, as officials concluded that “some drugs that can cause great harm [if] substandard or adulterated” were found.

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