Yesterday, more than XAF20 million worth of illicit and counterfeit medicines were burnt in Bertoua, the regional capital of the East, reports the state-owned daily Cameroon Tribune. "Counterfeit medicines are a threat to public health. We must all get involved in the fight against this traffic, in the interest of populations,” said Governor Grégoire Mvongo, when the illicit medical products were being destroyed at the Hysacam landfill site. This destruction - which is not the first of its kind in the East - comes at a time when Cameroon is commemorating the African Day for the Fight against Counterfeit Medicines.
Once again, the spotlight is on this phenomenon, which is still much present despite authorities’ efforts. In Cameroon, the counterfeit medicine market is thriving, causing several issues including loss of revenue for the State and stakeholders in the pharmaceuticals sector. The phenomenon also exposes users to drug resistance. On October 11, Minister of Public Health (Minsanté) Manaouda Malachie, once again visited illicit sales outlets in Yaoundé, to raise traders' awareness of the dangers of this activity.
"I’m not here to seize your merchandise. I have simply come to talk to you, to encourage you to change your trade, because your activity is dangerous for the health of the population," said the minister as some vendors were fleeing upon seeing government officials. The Minister nevertheless promised a crackdown the next time his teams visit the outlets. In Cameroon, 40% of medicines sold on street corners come from contraband, according to a study by the National Order of Pharmacists of Cameroon (ONPC). This illicit circuit accounts for just over 25% of the national drug market, according to the same source.