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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Durban harbour raid leads to R5m illegal drugs haul

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Durban – A large shipment of illegal medication valued at approximately R5million was discovered on Thursday at Durban Harbour – a day after unregistered and registered medication was confiscated from a health shop on the Bluff.

The SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA), together with the Hawks and eThekwini Metro Police, conducted a raid at a health shop where unregistered testosterone substances, sexual enhancement tablets and Schedule 6 weight-control drugs were discovered and confiscated on Wednesday.

Medicines Control Officer Masilo Mopai said the shop did not have a qualified pharmacist on staff.

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“Some of the medication we found at the shop cannot be sold over the counter by someone who is not a doctor or a pharmacist. We found medication that is very strong and should be prescribed or taken only under doctor’s orders.

“We started the raids on Wednesday and we will continue to stop the act of putting patients’ lives in danger.”

The raid was based on a tip-off to SAHPRA, which led to some of the team members going in posing as clients.

Yesterday morning, the same operation was conducted by the SAPS, Sars Customs, eThekwini Metro Police; Border Security Intelligence; Immigration; Operational Response Services (ORS) and SAHPRA at Durban Harbour.

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Captain Nonhlanhla Ximba from ORS said they had found the container as it was about to be transported out of the harbour to a transport agent nearby.

“When we discovered the container we had suspicions about the legality of the medication but were unsure. We called in the experts and our suspicions were proven correct. We still need to know where the container came from and who it was going to. We also checked if other shipments had arrived at the harbour but we have not found any other shipments. An investigation is being conducted,” said Ximba.

According to SAHPRA members present during the raid, the medicines are illegal in South Africa because they have not been tested in a clinical trial.

They warned the public to pay attention to medication classified as Schedule 3 and higher because these should not be available without a prescription. S0, S1 and S2 can be bought over the counter.

SA Pharmacy Council chief executive Amos Masango commended the law enforcement agencies for intercepting the drugs.

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“Had this not been the case, many lives would have been endangered. We call on the public to always consult registered pharmacists for advice on medicines and to buy their medicines only from pharmacies registered with the SA Pharmacy Council to avoid endangering their lives by consuming counterfeits or illegal drugs,” said Masango.

SAHPRA acting chief executive Portia Nkambule said SAHPRA was committed to protecting South Africans.

“These acts are indicative of unscrupulous conduct by some individuals and SAHPRA will work with law enforcement agencies to curb such practices,” she said.

Sandy Sha, a pharmacist from Sparkport Pharmacy, said the accessibility of illegal medication and that which should not be sold over the counter should urgently be addressed.

“There should be a firm stance taken with pharmacists selling illegal medication and putting peoples’ lives in danger. The message about buying these medicines to the public should be very strong.

“The government should step in to educate people about which medicines can and cannot be bought over the counter,” she said.

The Department of Health declined to comment, saying it was not their jurisdiction.

Source: Daily News

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