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Red flag raised over counterfeit medicine

Robin Obino @obinorobin

Kenya Association of Pharmaceutical Industry (KAPI) has raised concern over the proliferation of counterfeit pharmaceutical products in the market, saying they will have adverse consequences for access to affordable medicines.

Chairperson, Anastasia Nyalita said counterfeit and unregulated products continue to enjoy easy market access despite their negative impact on the national healthcare standards.

“The marked prevalence of counterfeit pharmaceutical products including drugs and medical equipment will have a devastating effect on the national universal healthcare delivery programmes,” she said.

Dr Nyalita also warned that the proliferation of counterfeit and unregulated medical drugs will be counterproductive to the attainment of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four agenda.

Concerns by the association comes a day after the Anti-Counterfeit Agency (ACA) identified drugs and medicines as some of the most counterfeited products. Others are alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, soaps and detergents, cosmetic and hair products.

A market study, commissioned by KAPI last year, confirmed an eight per cent prevalence of counterfeit and unregulated medicines in the country. These medicines are those that have entered the market through irregular channels and have not undergone the necessary regulatory scrutiny and market conformity by the Pharmacy and Poisons Board.

Nyalita petitioned the board to consider enhancing its market surveillance activities and fully utilise digital technologies to track shipments and identify grey and counterfeit products at ports and other points of entry to ensure that all products available in the market are regulated.

“Counterfeit and unregulated pharmaceutical products ultimately raise the cost of healthcare delivery among the most vulnerable groups while limiting the efficacy of crucial drugs due to a poor formulation,” she said.

According to ACA Executive director Elema Halake, counterfeiting requires stiffer penalties than what is provided for in the Anti-Counterfeit Act 2008. The agency is rooting for adoption of the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill, 2018 that seeks to make wide-ranging amendments to existing intellectual property laws.

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