Africa’s Malaria Battle: Fake Drug Pipeline Undercuts Progress – WSJ.comPosted: May 29, 2013
Exports of counterfeits from China to Africa are difficult to investigate because they involve large, opaque networks. Mr. Pembele said he acted as intermediary for a group of Luanda businessmen who had joined forces to buy various goods from China. “Clients don’t always say what they buy so I have had bad surprises. You can never trust people,” he said.
In another seizure last year, Nigeria’s pharmaceutical enforcement agency, working with Novartis, confiscated 40 cartons of fake Coartem packets stored at a consumer-electronics shop in Lagos, the country’s economic capital. Shipping documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal show the counterfeits came from a Nigerian trader based in Guangzhou.
Counterfeit Coartem has also been found and seized in Guangzhou itself. In February 2012, the Chinese police and the Chinese Food and Drug Administration seized 600 boxes of fake packets of the drug—enough to treat 18,000 patients—in two lorries in Guangzhou, according to a private investigator familiar with the haul.
The fake Coartem found in Luanda, Lagos and Guangzhou appeared to be manufactured specifically for the African market. The counterfeits all carried the logo of Nigeria’s medicines regulator, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control—which is used as a stamp of approval for authentic Coartem throughout the continent.
The fakes in all three countries also used expiration dates that ended 24 months after the alleged date of manufacture instead of the usual 23 months for genuine Coartem.
In Luanda, the health ministry is setting up laboratories to spot-check medicine in an effort to find counterfeits. But many Angolan health and police officials complain their hands are tied.