Masked informant leads fakes raid in Nigeria

The masked informant used in a counterfeit drug raid in Nigeria has some drug traders crying foul. The dispute follows the arrest of two men suspected of selling counterfeits at a drug market in Onitsha, some 300 miles south of the capital, Abuja.

National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) officials say they seized thousands of dollars' worth of fakes. Drug traders claim a plot by the agency to shut down the market.

According to a local press report, NAFDAC and police "stormed the market with a masked informant," who took officials to the shops in the market suspected of selling counterfeits. Angry traders tried to get a look behind the mask to identify their accuser, suspecting he might be one of their own.

A NAFDAC spokesman said the raid was "a new method of silent surveillance to stamp out fake drugs" and to keep ahead of the fakes-sellers. The NAFDAC raiders used the TruScan counterfeit-detection device--a handheld Raman spectrometer from Thermo Scientific also used a year ago in on-the-spot pharmacy inspections--to find the likely fakes before taking them for lab confirmation.

A group representing the traders charges that some unknown forces are trying to maintain an image of the market as lawless, selling fake, adulterated, substandard and expired drugs. They acknowledge that image was accurate in the past, but that the market has since been cleaned up of the negative elements.

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