The swoop – codenamed Operation Giboia II – involved thousands of police and customs officials in Angola, Malawi, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe who raided markets, shops, pharmacies and warehouses in addition to the three illicit plants.
Among the seized products were illicit and counterfeit antibiotics, painkillers, erectile dysfunction medicines, birth control and antimalarial medication.
Authorities arrested 550 people for offences including drug counterfeit manufacturing and the sale and trafficking of illegal medicines. They also closed 20 illegal pharmacies where the fake drugs were sold.
INTERPOL told us "In South Africa, the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation of the South African Police Service participated in Operation Giboia II."
Executive Director of Police Services, Tim Morris, said: “Pharmaceutical crime is widespread across Southern Africa and poses a very real threat to public safety.
“Operation Gibioa II has demonstrated that the only effective way to combat the organized crime networks involved in pharmaceutical crime is through a coordinated response engaging law enforcement and the health sector, with the support of INTERPOL” he added.
Giboia II is one of a number of anti-drug counterfeiting operations co-ordinated by Interpol this year.
In June the international organisation worked with US authorities to seize illegal medicines and medical devices sold by more than 1,050 websites.
That operation, named Pangea VIII, saw the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) send Warning Letters to around 400 websites and nine companies distributing unapproved medical devices online.
The increased focus on fake medicines follows just a few years after Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Roche and 26 other large pharmaceutical companies agreed to provide INTERPOL with $5.85m (3.5m Euros) over three years to fund an Interpol initiative to combat pharmaceutical counterfeits and crime.