Seen and heard: counterfeiting news in brief

African super regulator, edible oil and alcohol frauds, the future of UK food crime unit and fake Viagra operation.

African "super regulator" aims to curb falsified medicines

The African Union – with the help of the World Health organization (WHO) and New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad) – is planning to set up an African Medicine Agency (AMA) that is scheduled to come into being next year, with curbing substandard and falsified medicines a primary objective, reports The agency would be formed by national regulators from Union member states and modelled on the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which operates alongside national regulators in the EU. The proposal needs to be ratified by at least 15 nations before it can go ahead.

Substandard oil seller in Taiwan jailed for 22 years

The chairman of Taiwanese cooking oils producer Chang Guann Co, Yeh Wen-hsiang, has been sentenced to a massive 22 years in jail – five years of which can be commuted to fines – for his role in supplying substandard oils in violation of the food safety law and aggravated fraud, says a Focus Taiwan article. The firm's deputy general manager Tai Chi-chuan received an 18-year jail term commutable with fines to 14 years. The court also imposed a fine of NT$120m ($4m) on the company and confiscated another NT$81.5m of its illicit gains.

Future of UK food crime unit under threat?

The UK National Food Crime Unit set up in the wake of the horsemeat scandal could fail unless it receives more funding, according to a report in the Daily Telegraph citing Food Standards Agency director Heather Hancock. She reportedly told The Grocer magazine that the NFCU – which costs £2m a year to run – will need more funding if it is to step up its activities and start bringing major prosecutions against fraudsters.

Counterfeit vodka exceeded permitted alcohol limits

A shopkeeper from Grimsby in the UK has admitted he sold counterfeit Chekov vodka that was laced with an organic agricultural chemical and exceeding the permitted levels for alcohol, harming at least one customer who was ill for several days, has been sentenced to a 12-month community order and 100 hours of unpaid work, and been forced to pay £1,100 in costs, says the Grimsby Telegraph. Somalingam Vijayaruban had his license to sell alcohol suspended in April in connection with the same incident.

Chinese police clamp down on fake Viagra sales

Chinese police have carried out raids on more than 40 pharmacies and shops in Nanjing's Gaochun District in an operation aimed at disrupting the trade in counterfeit versions of Pfizer's erectile dysfunction drug Viagra (sildenafil), bulk raw materials used to make the tablets and other fake medicines, reports The Nanjinger. The tablets – which were falsely claimed to be made in Germany or Hong Kong - were sold online, through stores and using door-to-door salespeople.

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