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A recent seizure of counterfeit drugs and the shutdown of the ring that provided them shows how Syria is stepping up its response to a problem that remains widespread in the Middle East.

Piled up in huge plastic bags, the haul netted millions of dollars worth of breast cancer, leukemia and other medicines, along with tens of thousands of anticoagulant pills that purported to treat heart attacks and other diseases. At least 65 people were detained; it couldn’t be learned if they were charged. A trial date hasn’t yet been set.

All were fakes with no medicinal value, copies of legitimate medicines made by Novartis AG, Sanofi-Aventis SA, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Roche Holding AG and Pfizer Inc.

The bust, which also seized equipment used to make and package fake drugs, stopped one ring’s lucrative trade of counterfeits to Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon, Iran and Egypt, according to pharmaceutical-company managers and a Syrian official familiar with the investigation. Pfizer, Bristol-Myers, Novartis and Sanofi-Aventis confirmed the Syrian seizures. WSJ

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