Roaring trade in rape drug

07 September 2015 - 02:07 By Katharine Child

More than 2400 Rohypnol tablets, often used as a date-rape drug, were dispensed in only 20 days in August by a registered pharmacist in the south of Johannesburg. Police are investigating whether date-rape cases have surged in the area.The police discovered the suspiciously large turnover of Rohypnol during a fake-medicines-related investigation by Interpol, the health department, customs officers, SARS and the Hawks.In that investigation fake and expired medicines, slimming tea and skin lightening products worth R26-million were seized in Cape Town, Durban, Pretoria and Port Elizabeth. Many of the products had Chinese packaging. Only one arrest has been made.But Hawks spokesman Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said more arrests were expected and the intelligence gained in the operation would shed light on how fake and illegal medicines enter this country.The Medicines Control Council is the statutory body for the regulation of pharmaceuticals but it has only 12 inspectors who can investigate fake medication.Council registrar Joey Gouws said this was not too few because the inspector's job was to assist law enforcement authorities.During the operation the police discovered electronics shops selling fake and expired medicines in Durban, and they were alerted to a warehouse filled with illegally imported cosmetics.In a house in Pretoria, police discovered pills that appeared to come from China promising sexual enhancement.Mulaudzi warned that these drugs were dangerous because it was not known what they contained.Samples of all sexual enhancement pills, fake drugs and illegal skin creams have been sent to a lab for testing to see what, if any, active ingredients they contain.The Innovative Pharmaceutical Association of SA said a World Health Organisation workshop in Senegal in April established that more than 625 suspect products had been reported in 73 countries.Africa accounted for 42% of the suspect products, most of which originated in India or China...

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