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51 arrested in operation Zambezi

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The blitz, code-named Operation Zambezi, has resulted in some pharmaceutical drugs being confiscated in the city.

The operation which started on Wednesday is being held in conjunction with Interpol, Zimra, Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Intellectual Property Office, Anti-Piracy Organisation of Zimbabwe and other stakeholders.

Addressing journalists, police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka yesterday said as law enforcement agents, their primary focus was to ensure that citizens were protected with domestic laws being complied with and enforced.

"As such, Operation Zambezi was carried out in greater Harare targeting pharmacies, surgeries, clinics and open market shops that are operating illegally and as well as dealing in counterfeit drugs," he said.

He said the operation was aimed at identifying, investigating and prosecuting individuals and companies that import, manufacture, supply and export counterfeit products in the country.

Chief Supt Mandipaka said during the operation it was discovered that some doctors were giving their patients expired drugs, or use drugs whose origins could not be traced or re-dispense medicines within their surgeries without dispensing licences.

"In some pharmacies, police also discovered that medicines were being dispensed by unqualified personnel, some sell and dispense unregistered drugs," he said.

He said it was also disheartening to note that some of the drugs donated to government hospitals were finding their way into pharmacies, leading to critical shortages.

Chief Supt Mandipaka said during the operation, skin lightening creams such as Diprozon, and Appetito were also recovered in Mbare Musika, Mupedzanhamo and hair salons.

Most of them are smuggled into the country and sold at open markets.

"These medical drugs appear to be cheap and yet cause untold health problems such as drug resistance, health complications, aggravation of ailments, provocation of other ailments, waste of resources and even death," he said.

Chief Supt Mandipaka urged the public to buy drugs prescribed by a doctor or physician, qualified medical practitioners and from reputable pharmacies where the drug origin could be ascertained. He warned all those dealing in counterfeit and expired drugs and operating without licences .

"Surely how can a professional doctor treat patients with drugs that have expired some ten years ago? said Chief Supt Mandipaka. "The counterfeit pharmaceutical drugs represent a serious threat to the world public health," said Chief Supt Mandipaka.

He said counterfeit medicines include products that had no active ingredient or sub-potent, contain dangerous impurities, or are adulterated with undeclared active ingredients.

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