"In the course of the last two years, 385 tonnes of fake medicines -- representing a financial loss of 152 million euros (USD 173 million) for the pharmaceutical industry -- were seized," said Able Ekissi, an inspector in the ministry.
"In Ivory Coast, 30 to 40 per cent of medicines are bought off the streets. They are reputed to be cheaper and at best they are ineffective and at worst toxic, causing death," said Abderrahmane Chakibi, the managing director of French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi for sub-Saharan Africa.
The illicit sector has a turnover of at least 10 per cent of the world pharmaceutical business, meaning that it earns tens of billions of dollars a year, the Switzerland-based World Economic Forum estimates, adding that the figure has nearly tripled in five years.
The WHO estimates that one out of 10 medicines in the world is fake but the figure can be as high as seven out of 10 in certain countries, especially in Africa.
The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene estimated in 2015 that 122,000 children under five died due to taking poor-quality antimalarials in sub-Saharan Africa, which, along with antibiotics as the two most in-demand, are the medicines most likely to be out-of-date or bad copies.
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