In a substantial operation on Wednesday, 3rd May, Ivory Coast authorities were deployed to a large fake drugs market located in the port city of Abidjan, the market was estimated to supply nearly a third of all treatments in the country.

In an early morning raid, 150 officers descended on the Roxy neighbourhood in the country’s economic capital, seizing boxes of fake medicine.

“I applaud the action that took place in the largest street drugs market in west Africa,” Dr Parfait Kouassi, who heads an association of pharmaceutical retailers, told AFP.

Often improperly stored, the fake treatments are “toxic cocktails” whose low prices attract illiterate clients, Kouassi added.

He estimates that such “street pharmacies” cost the country’s legal pharmaceutical sector $66-million to $83 million each year.

Two months ago, authorities burned 50 tonnes of fake drugs valued at more than a million euros.

Fake drugs make up around 10%of the global pharmaceutical market, according to the International Institute of Research Against Counterfeit Medicines.

In Africa, nearly one in three drugs are illicit or counterfeit, making the continent the world’s most vulnerable region to trafficking run by organised crime rings.

Criminals take advantage of the fact that, unlike illegal drug trafficking, selling fake drugs remains largely unpunished around the world, since it is mainly considered a violation of intellectual property rights.

Most illicit pharmaceutical products come from India, sometimes authentic but often expired or sold as contraband, whereas most counterfeit drugs are manufactured in China, according to the World Customs Organisation.