Pharmaceutical crime: news in brief

Orange capsulesA round-up of falsified pharmaceutical news from Spain, India, France, Kenya and the Dominican Republic.

The authorities in Spain have taken down a criminal operation involved in the diversion and possible counterfeiting of medicines that were acquired cheaply in Spain and sold on to pharmacies Denmark, the UK and Belgium with a three- to four-fold mark-up, according to a report in El Pais. The Spanish pharmacies received a commission of around 10 per cent for their part in the trade, says the newspaper, which notes the two people have been arrested and 13 others indicted on a number of charges including money laundering. The gang operated out of a warehouse in Valencia, where 12,000 packs of medicines including drugs for Parkinson's disease, epilepsy and childhood leukaemia and €163,000 in cash were discovered by the authorities. A spokesman for the Spanish police said the medicines found were considered counterfeit because their origin and the conditions in which they were stored are unknown.

Medicines regulatory officers and police have raided a pharmaceutical distributor in the state of Odisha in India and arrested its owner on suspicion of supplying fake versions of Sanofi Pasteur's Pentaxim, a paediatric vaccine used to prevent diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio and invasive infections caused by Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib). Swati Distributor's proprietor Rajesh Rout has insisted that he is innocent of the charges and is being framed, according to a report in the Odisha Sun Times, which notes no Pentaxim - either counterfeit or genuine - was found during the raid.

French pharmaceutical trade group Les Entreprises du Medicament (Leem) has teamed up with a division of the police to combat falsified medicines. Leem and the Central Office for the fight against environmental damage and public health (OCLAESP) have launched a Declaration aimed at boosting collaboration between pharma companies and the police. The collaboration focuses on the exchange of information on falsification and misappropriation of medicines or raw materials used in them, while respecting the confidentiality required in sharing such details, and raising public awareness of the trade in fake drugs.

The Global Pharma Health Fund has provided six more Minilabs to Kenya - and trained 22 laboratory technicians in their use - as part of the ongoing antimalarial quality surveillance project run by the Promoting the Quality of Medicines (PQM) programme maintained jointly by the US Pharmacopeial Convention (USP)  and USAID. To date 11 sentinel sites have been set up in Kenya to assess the quality of priority antimalarial products on the market and in malaria programmes. The equipment will be used to support a study that will collect and test 900 antimalarial samples at various outlets in malaria endemic prone regions, border counties and ports of entry.

Police in the Dominican Republic seized falsified medicines in a warehouse in the northwestern city of Santiago de los Caballeros and arrested one individual according to local news reports. The medicines are valued at millions of dollars and included painkillers, antibiotics and drugs for blood pressure and diabetes. Empty boxes, shipping containers printing equipment were also confiscated.

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