March 22, 2006

At the urging of the Nigeria-based National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), 12 African countries have established the West African Drug Regulators Forum, an agency that will combat the sale of counterfeit drugs in the sub-Saharan region -- where the illegal trade has become a prevalent and dangerous problem.

NAFDAC Director General Dora Akunyili said that the forum would promote "sharing of experiences and strategies" in the fight against fake drugs. "What we have done now is to form a forum of West African drug regulators, both Anglo and Francophone countries," she said. "This will provide a platform where we can share strategies and experiences so that we can form a united front to be able to tackle these counterfeiters."

In 2001, the Nigerian government reported that roughly 70 percent of all medicines in the country were counterfeit. Widespread poverty and governmental corruption in the sub-Saharan region have allowed the problem to go unchecked.