Page last updated at 09:58 GMT, Friday, 3 October 2008 10:58 UK

Belgians seize Africa-bound drugs

Malaria victim in Africa
The shipment included drugs to treat malaria - a big killer in Africa

More than two million counterfeit drugs destined for Africa have been seized in Belgium, customs officials say.

They said the shipment from India, including copies of an anti-malaria drug, was the biggest seizure of fake medication ever made in Europe.

Customs officers at Brussels airport became suspicious when they noticed spelling mistakes on the labels.

The UN says fake medicines represent 10% of the world market and up to 30% of the African market.

The seizure, made last week, was made public on Thursday night.

Thanks to this seizure, we have saved lives
Lieven Muylaert
Customs department

Hidden in large bags, the pills were copies of a strong painkiller made by a German company, and a Swiss-made anti-malarial treatment.

The confiscated medicines had been sent in three shipments by an Indian company in Mumbai, and were bound for two unnamed companies based in Togo.

Belgium's Le Soir newspaper reported that the drugs were probably intended to be distributed across West Africa.

"Thanks to this seizure, we have saved lives," Le Soir quoted Lieven Muylaert, spokesman for Belgium's customs department, as saying.

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