THE Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe has busted a drug smuggling syndicate that was specialising in illegally importing hip-enlargement drugs, skin lightening creams and cough mixtures abused by some people in place of regular booze.
Although the number of arrests could not be ascertained at the time of going to print, MCAZ and the police confiscated drugs and creams imported through illegal crossing points.
MCAZ director Ms Gugu Mahlangu said: “A wide variety of unregistered medicines have been found and confiscated but these are mainly medicines that are used for skin lightening purposes, hip enlargements, cough mixtures and counterfeit veterinary products. Arrests of the drug couriers have been made.”
The smuggled medicines include Diproson, Lemonvate, Dermovate, Epiderm, Bio Claire, Extra Claire, Caro Light, Betasol, Apetito tablets, Super Apetito tablets, Broncleer, ESb3 and Hitet.
MCAZ and the police launched joint inspections early this year following a tip-off of rampant drug smuggling.
“Though we don’t have the exact quantities for the illegal medicines we confiscated, it’s important to indicate that the quantities were significant enough to be a cause for concern for both the authority and the police,” explained Ms Mahlangu.
Medicines used for skin-lightening contain steroids which have long-term effects like causing cancers. The use of drugs for hip enlargement has been known to disfigure the body. Cough mixtures have potential addictive properties which may result in physical, psychological and psychosocial problems.
Counterfeit veterinary products may cause loss of livestock or increase in prevalence of disease resistance.
All medicines should be imported after MCAZ authorisation.
“We have trained port officials on what to look out for at the ports of entry regarding medicines being imported into the country.
“We have also designated ports of entry for medicines such that certain ports, particularly those in the northern and eastern parts of the country except Forbes Border Post which was excluded for the importation of medicines, are used,” said Ms Mahlangu.
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