Counterfeit drugs seized in swoop

Interpol Rwanda and the Pharmacy Task Force in the Ministry of Health have seized about 90 kilos of counterfeit and unauthorized drugs in the country. The head of Interpol-Rwanda, Tony Kuramba, revealed this Thursday at a press conference held at the police headquarters in Kacyiru.
Interpol-Rwanda chief Tony Kuramba
Interpol-Rwanda chief Tony Kuramba

Interpol Rwanda and the Pharmacy Task Force in the Ministry of Health have seized about 90 kilos of counterfeit and unauthorized drugs in the country.

The head of Interpol-Rwanda, Tony Kuramba, revealed this Thursday at a press conference held at the police headquarters in Kacyiru.

The operation codenamed ‘Mamba III’, was carried out in all the five East African Community member states to combat counterfeit medical products and other forms of pharmaceutical crimes within the five-nation bloc.

The drugs, most of them for human consumption, were found in 37 wholesale and retail pharmacies, drug shops, hospitals and clinics in Kigali, Rubavu and Rusizi districts where the operation was carried out between August 23 and 24 in.

Most of the drugs were found to have been smuggled into the country mainly from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
According to a report on the findings, some pharmacies, drug shops and dispensaries sold smuggled pharmaceutical products and lacked storage facilities.

Kuramba said that some medical stores were closed during the operation as investigations are still going on.

“We will reveal the detailed findings after fully completing the operation since they’re some other activities to follow in line with legal procedures which will be communicated later. But at the moment, investigations are still in their early stages,” Kuramba said.

The operation also involved the Customs Department, Rwanda Bureau of Standards and the Rwanda Drug Consumables and Equipment Central Procurement Agency (CAMERWA).

“This is just the beginning,” said Kuramba, appealing to the media and the general public to be part of the operation, which he said, hinders the country’s economy and exposes health dangers to the population.

Eugene Torero, the Deputy Commissioner General and Commissioner for Customs Services  at Rwanda Revenue Authority ,said that hundreds of kilos of smuggled drugs have been impounded in Rubavu and are in customs stores.

John Patrick Mwesigye, the in-charge of pharmacy services in the Ministry of Health, revealed that the ministry, in conjunction with other stakeholders, is in the process of putting in place mechanisms eradicate counterfeit medicine in the country.

He said that the ministry will acquire incinerators in December to dispose expired pharmaceutical products and other health commodities.

Operation Mamba III, the first of its kind in Rwanda and Burundi, follows two other operations carried in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania in 2008 and 2009.

It also aims at establishing lasting networks for long term cooperation in the fight against counterfeit medical products.

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