Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority (TFDA) has accused passenger buses of allegedly ferrying fake drugs harmful to the health of the people.
Hiiti Sillo, Authority’s Executive Director TFDA, said yesterday that a haul of fake erythromycin, an antibiotic, was recently busted and impounded. The counterfeit prescription drugs were in transit on a passenger bus along the Tunduma—Mwanza road.
TFDA, a regulatory body responsible for the quality and safety of food, drugs, cosmetics and medical devices has been carrying out special operations to seize sham drugs with recent concentration in the Kagera, Geita and Mwanza regions.
In what is increasingly beginning to look like a racket, the Director exposed a disturbing case where a single bus operator (name withheld) was allegedly linked to 13 separate incidences of trafficking fake pharmaceutical drugs between Tunduma and Dar es Salaam in the span of only six months, that is on average, two trips a month, from January to June this year. The quantity involved was not revealed.
TFDA has seized 117 tins of bogus Praziquantel and Amodiaquine Hydrochloride whose labels claimed they were manufactured by the Tanzania Pharmaceutical Industries Limited (TPI) in Arusha. After analysis, test results proved them to be fake, substandard and potentially dangerous. No manufacturing companies were identified nor linked.
Amodiaquine is a compound related to chloroquine, used as an anti-malarial and anti-inflammatory agent while Praziquantel is used to treat diseases caused by infection from several types of internal/ gastrointestinal parasites.
Following several raid and search operations conducted by the TFDA in collaboration with local police resulted in the retrieval of a host of contraband from both commercial as well as residential sites.
Forged labels for fake Ephedrine and Dioerythro were retrieved from a suspect’s house
More than 100 empty tins, plastic bags, and a bottle of what was reportedly a bleaching agent was found in a guest-house in Igoma on the outskirts of Mwanza city.
Ephedrine is commonly used as a stimulant, and is similar in structure to the derivatives amphetamine and methamphetamine. Despite their clinical value, both of these drugs are psychostimulants and posses very high potential for abuse and addiction since they activate the brains reward system by triggering a cascading release of dopamine. They are hence used for recreation and sold widely as street drugs in a white, odorless, crystalline powder form under the aliases speed and crystal-meth respectively.
The executive director Sillo, exp;ained their imperative operation which started in is geared at fighting against fake drugs in the lake region and bringing to justice all parties involved.
Mwanza Regional Police Commander Liberatus Barlow, announced that a total of 13 persons have been arrested in connection with fake drug trafficking.
Last year TFDA suspended importation, distribution, sale and dispensing of two types of anti-malaria and two antibiotics following lab results that revealed them to be counterfeit and harmful.
According to the report TFDA report posted the pekuua tz site, the identified drugs and associated manufacturers were, Orodar, by Elys Chemicals Industries Ltd of Kenya, Laifin by Allied Ltd also of Kenya, Erythromycin Stearate by Astra Lifecare(Pvt) Ltd, India and Pheoymethylpenicillin made right here in Dar es salaam by Zenufa Laboratories Ltd.
The public has been cautioned to be wary and report any suspicious activities to the authorities.